Skip to main content

Full text of "The man who lost himself"

See other formats


The Man Who Lost 

re 



Himself* :: By H. de Ve 



, Author of "The Pearl Fishers," "In 
<Blue Waters" "The Reef of Stars," The Starlit 
Garden," etc. 




LONDON: HUTCH INSON & CO. 
PATERNOSTER ROW :: :: 1918 



CONTENTS 
PART I 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. JONES ..... .5 

II. THE STRANGER .... 9 

III. DINNER AND AFTER . . 13 

IV. THE AWAKENING 15 

V. THE POINT OF THE JOKE ... 31 



PART II. 

I. THE NET 34 

II. LUNCHEON ...... 40 

III. MR. VOLES 48 

IV. MORE INTRUDERS 60 

V. LADY PLINLIMON ..... 69 

VI. THE COAL-MINE 77 

VII. THE GIRL IN THE VICTORIA ... 86 
VIII. TERESA . . . . . -99 



PART III. 

I. THE ATTACK 101 

II. THE ATTACK CONTINUED. . . . 106 

III. A WILD SURPRISE in 

IV. THE SECOND HONEYMOON . . . 122 

V. THE MENTAL TRAP 131 

VI. ESCAPE CLOSED' 136 

VII. THE FAMILY COUNCIL .... 150 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

VIII. HOOVER'S 169 

IX. AN INTERLUDE 180 

X. SMITHERS ...... 188 

XI. HE RUNS TO EARTH .... 195 

XII." MOTHS" 199 

XIII. A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS. . . 205 
XIV. THE ONLY MAN IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD 

BELIEVE HIM ..... 225 

XV. PEBBLEMARSH 234 

XVI. THE BLIGHTED CITY .... 240 

XVII. A JUST MAN ABGERED .... 245 

XVIII. HE FINDS HIMSELF 250 



THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

PART I 
CHAPTER I 

JONES 

IT was the first of June, and Victor Jones, of Phila- 
delphia, was seated in the lounge of the Savoy 
Hotel, London, defeated in his first really great battle 
with the thing we call life. 

Though of Philadelphia, Jones was not an American, 
nor had he anything of the American accent. Aus- 
tralian born, he had begun life in a bank at Melbourne, 
gone to India for a trading house, started for himself, 
failed, and become a rolling stone. Philadelphia 
was his last halt. 

With no financial foundation, Victor and a Phila- 
delphia gentleman had competed for a contract to 
supply the British Government with Harveyized steel 
struts, bolts and girders ; he had come over to 
London to press the business, he had interviewed 
men in brass hats, slow-moving men who had turned 
him over to slower-moving men. The Stringer Com- 
pany, for so he dubbed himself, and Aaron Stringer, 
who had financed him for the journey, had wasted 
three weeks on the business, and this morning their 

5 



6 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

tender ba<l been rejected. Kardmans, the Pittsburg 
people, had got the order. 

It was a nasty blow. If he and Stringer could 
have secured the contract, they could have carried 
it through all right. Stringer would have put the 
thing in the hands of Laurenson, of Philadelphia, and 
their commission would have been enormous. A 
stroke of the British Government's pen would have 
filled their pockets ; failing that, they were bankrupt. 
At least Jones was. 

And justifiably you will say, considering that the 
whole business was a gigantic piece of bluff. Well, 
maybe ; yet on behalf of this bluffer I would put it 
forward that he had risked everything on one deal, 
and that this was no little failure of his, but a disaster 
naked and complete. 

He had less than ten pounds in his pocket, and he 
owed money at the " Savoy." You see, he had 
reckoned on doing all his business in a week, and if 
it failed an idea which he scarcely entertained on 
getting back third-class to the States. He had not 
reckoned on the terrible expenses of London, or the 
three weeks' delay. 

Yesterday he had sent a cable to Stringer for funds and 
had got as a reply : " Am waiting news of contract." 

Stringer was that sort of man. 

He was thinking about Stringer now as he sat 
watching the guests of the " Savoy," Americans and 
English, well-to-do people with no money worries, so 
he fancied. He was thinking about Stringer and 
his own position, with less than ten pounds in his 
pocket, an hotel bill unreceipted, and three thousand 
miles of deep water between himself and Philadelphia. 

Jones waS twenty-four years of age. He looked 
thirty. A serious-faced, cadaverous individual, whom, 



JONES 7 

given three guesses, you would have judged to be a 
Scotch free kirk minister in mufti, an actor in the 
melodramatic line, a food crank. These being the 
three most serious occupations in the world. 

In reality he had started life, as before said, in a 
bank, educated himself in mathematics and higher 
commercial methods by correspondence, and, aiming 
to be a millionaire, had left the bank and struck out 
for himself in the great tumbling ocean of business. 

He had glimpsed the truth. Seen the fact that the 
art of life is not so much to work oneself as to make 
other people work for one, to convert, by one's own 
mental energy, the bodily energy of others into pro- 
ducts or actions. 

Had this Government contract come off, he would 
have, and to his own profit, set a thousand hammers 
swinging, a dozen steel mills rolling, twenty ships 
lading ; hammers, mills and ships he had never 
seen, never would see. 

That is the magic of business, and when you behold 
roaring towns and humming wharves, when you read of 
raging battles, you see and read of the work of a com- 
paratively small number of men, gentlemen who wear 
frock coats, who have never handled a bale, or carried a 
gun, or steered a ship with their own hands. Magicians ! 

He ordered a whisky-and-soda from a passing 
attendant, to help him think some more about Stringer 
and his own awful position, and was taking the glass 
from the salver when a very well-dressed man, of his 
own age and build, who had entered by the passage 
leading up from the American bar, drew his attention. 

This man's face seemed quite familiar to him, so 
much so that he started in his chair as though about 
to rise and greet him. The stranger, also-, seemed for 
a second under the same obsession, but only for a 



8 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

second ; he made half a pause and then passed on, 
becoming lost to sight beyond the palm trees at the 
entrance. Jones leaned back in his chair. 

His memory, vaguely and vainly searching for the 
name to go with that face, was at fault. He finished 
his whisky-and-soda and rose, and then strolled off, 
not heeding much in what direction, till he reached 
the book and newspaper stand, where he paused to 
inspect the wares, turning over the pages of the latest 
best seller without imbibing a word of the text. 

Then he found himself downstairs in the American 
bar, with a champagne cocktail before him. 

Jones was an abstemious man, as a rule, but he had 
a highly strung nervous system, and it had been 
worked up. The unaccustomed whisky-and-soda had 
taken him in its charge, comforting him and conducting 
his steps, and now the bar-keeper, a cheery person, 
combined with the champagne cocktail, the cheeriest 
of drinks, so raised his spirits and warmed his optimism 
that, having finished his glass, he pushed it across the 
counter and said, " Give me another." 

At this moment a gentleman who had just entered 
the bar came up to the counter, placed half a crown 
upon it, and was served by the assistant bar-keeper 
with a glass of sherry. 

Jones, turning, found himself face to face with the 
stranger whom he had seen in the lounge, the stranger 
whose face he knew, but whose name he could not 
remember in the least. 

Jones was a direct person, used to travel and the 
forming of chance acquaintanceships. He did not 
hang back. 

' 'Scuse me," said he. "I saw you in the lounge, 
and I'm sure I've met you somewhere or another, but 
I can't place you ! " 



CHAPTER II 

THE STRANGER 

THE stranger, taking his change from the assistant 
bar-tender, laughed. 

' Yes," said he, " you have seen me before ; often, 
I should think. Do you mean to say you don't know 
where ? " 

" Nope/' said Jones ; he had acquired a few 
American idioms. " I'm clear out of my reckoning. 
Are you an American ? " 

" No ; I'm English," replied the other. " This is 
very curious ; you don't recognize me well, well, 
well, let's sit down and have a talk, maybe recollection 
will come to you give it time it is easier to think 
sitting down than standing up." 

Now, as Jones turned to take his seat at the table 
indicated by the stranger, he noticed that the bar- 
keeper and his assistant were looking at him as though 
he had suddenly become an object of more than 
ordinary interest. 

The subtlety of human facial expression stands un- 
challenged, and the faces of these persons conveyed 
the impression to Jones that the interest he had 
suddenly evoked in their minds had in it a link with 
the humorous. 

When he looked again, however, having taken his 



10 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

seat, they were both washing glasses with the solemnity 
of undertakers. 

" I thought those guys were laughing at me," said 
Jones. " Seems I was wrong, and all the better for 
them. Well, now, let's get to the bottom of this 
tangle who are you, anyway ? " 

" Just a friend," replied the other. " I'll tell you 
my name presently, only I want you to think it out 
for yourself. Talk about yourself, and then, maybe, 
you'll arrive at it. Who are you ? " 

" Me," cried Jones. " I'm Victor Jones, of Phila- 
delphia. I'm the partner of a skunk by name of 
Stringer. I'm the victim of a British Government 
that doesn't know the difference between tin-plate and 
Harveyized steel. I'm a man on the rocks." 

The flood-gates of his wrath were opened, and every- 
thing came out, including the fact of his own desperate 
position. 

When he had finished, the only remark of the 
stranger was : 

" Have another ? " 

" Not on your life," cried Jones. " I ought to be 
making tracks for the consul or somewhere to get my 
passage back to the States well, I don't know. No ; 
no more cocktails. I'll have a sherry, same as you." 

The sherry having been dispatched, the stranger 
rose, refusing a return drink just at that moment. 

" Come into the lounge with me," said he. " I want 
to tell you something I can't tell you here." 

They passed up the stairs, the stranger leading the 
way, Jones following, slightly confused in his mind 
but full of warmth at his heart, and with a buoyancy 
of spirit beyond experience. Stringer was forgotten, 
the British Government was forgotten, contracts, 
hotel bills, steerage journeys to the States, all these 



THE STRANGER 11 

were forgotten. The warmth, the sumptuous rooms, 
and the golden lamps of the " Savoy " were sufficient 
for the moment, and, as he sank into an easy chair 
and lit a cigarette, even his interest in the stranger 
and what he had to say was for a moment dimmed and 
diminished by the fumes that filled his brain and the 
ease that lapped his senses. 

" What I have to say is this," said the stranger, 
leaning forward in his chair. " When I saw you here 
some time ago, I recognized you at once as a person 
I knew, but, as you put it, I could not place you. But 
when I got into the main hall a mirror at once told me. 
You are, to put it frankly, my twin image." 

" I beg your pardon," said Jones, the word image 
shattering his complacency. ' Your twin which, do 
you say ? " 

" Image, likeness, counterpart. I mean no offence ; 
turn round and glance at that mirror behind you." 

Jones did, and saw the stranger, and the stranger 
was himself. Both men belonged to a fairly common 
type, but the likeness went far beyond that they were 
identical. The same hair and colour of hair, the 
same features, shape of head, eyes and colour of eyes, 
the same serious expression of countenance. 

Absolute likeness between two human beings is 
almost as rare as absolute likeness between two 
pebbles on a beach, yet it occurs, as in the case of 
M. de Joinville and others well known and confirmed, 
and when I say absolute likeness, I mean likeness so 
complete that a close acquaintance cannot distinguish 
the difference between the duplicates. When Nature 
does a trick like this, she does it thoroughly, for it 
has been noticed but more especially in the case of 
twins that the likeness includes the voice, or, at least, 
its timbre, the thyroid cartilage and vocal chords 



12 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

following the mysterious law that rules the dupli- 
cation. 

Jones's voice and the voice of the stranger might 
have been the same, the only difference was in the 
accent, and that was slight. 

" Well, I'm d d," said Jones. 

He turned to the other and then back to the mirror. 

" Extraordinary, isn't it ? " said the other. " I 
don't know whether I ought to apologize to you or 
you to me. My name is Rochester." 

Jones turned from the mirror, the two champagne 
cocktails, the whisky and the sherry were accommo- 
dating his unaccustomed brain to support this most 
unaccustomed situation. The thing seemed to him 
radiantly humorous, yet, if he had known it, there 
was very little humour in the matter. 

" We must celebrate this," said Jones, calling an 
attendant and giving him explicit orders as to the 
means. 



CHAPTER III 

DINNER AND AFTER 

A SMALL bottle of Bollinger was the means, and 
the celebration was mostly done by Jones, 
for it came about that this stranger, Rochester, whilst 
drinking little himself, managed by some method to 
keep up in gaiety and inconsequence of mind with 
the other, though every now and then he would fall 
away from the point, as a ship without a steersman 
falls away from the wind, and lapse for a moment into 
what an acute observer might have deemed to be the 
fundamental dejection of his real nature. 

However, these lapses were only momentary, and 
did not interfere at all with the gay spirits of his com- 
panion, who, having found a friend in the midst of 
the loneliness of London, and his twin image in the 
person of that friend, was now pouring out his heart 
on every sort of subject, always returning, and with 
the regularity of a pendulum, to the fact of the like- 
ness, and the same question and statement. 

" What's this, your name ? Rochester 1 Well, 'pon 
my soul, this beats me." 

Presently, the Bollinger finished, Jones found him- 
self outside the " Savoy " with this new-found friend, 
walking in the gaslit Strand, and then, without any 
transition rememberable, he found himself seated at 

13 



14 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

dinner in a private room of a French restaurant in 
Soho. 

Afterwards he could remember parts of that dinner 
quite distinctly. He could remember the chicken and 
salad, and a rum omelette, at which he had laughed, 
because it was on fire. He could remember Rochester's 
gaiety, and a practical joke of some sort played on the 
waiter by Rochester, and ending in smashed plates ; 
he could remember remonstrating with the latter over 
his wild conduct. These things came to him after- 
wards, and also a few others a place like Heaven, 
which was the Leicester Lounge, and a place like the 
other place, which was Leicester Square. 

A quarrel with a stranger, about what he could not 
tell, a taxi-cab, in which he was seated listening to 
Rochester's voice giving directions to the driver, 
minute directions as to where he, Jones, was to be 
driven. 

A lamp-lit hall and stairs up which he was being led. 

Nothing more. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE AWAKENING 

HE awoke from sleep in bed in the dark, with 
his mind clear as crystal, and hot shame 
clutching at his throat. Rochester was the first 
recollection that came to him, and it was a recollection 
tinged with evil. Led by Rochester, he had made a 
fool of himself, he had made a brute of himself. How 
would he face the hotel people ? And what had he 
done with the last of his money ? 

These thoughts held him motionless for a few 
terrific moments. Then he clapped his hand to his 
unfortunate head, turned on his side, and lay gazing 
into the darkness. It had all come back to him 
clearly. 

Rochester's wild conduct, the dinner, the smashed 
plates, the quarrel. He was afraid to get up and 
search in his pockets ; he guessed their condition. 
He occupied himself instead, trying to imagine what 
would become of him without money and without 
friends in this wilderness of London. With ten 
pounds he might have done something without, what 
could he do ? Nothing, unless it were manual labour, 
and he did not know where to look for that. 

Then Rochester, never from his mind, came more 
fully before him that likeness, was it real, or only a 

15 



16 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

delusion of alcohol ? And what else had Rochester 
done ? He seemed mad enough to have done any- 
thing, plumb crazy. Would he (Jones) be held 
accountable for Rochester's deeds ? He was righting 
with this question when a clock began to strike in the 
darkness close to the bed, nine delicate and silvery 
strokes, that brought a sudden sweat upon the forehead 
of Jones. 

He was not in his room at the " Savoy." There 
was no clock in the " Savoy " bedroom, and no clock 
in any hotel ever spoke in tones like these. On the 
last stroke, and as if from a passage outside, he heard 
a voice : 

" Took all his money and sent him home in another 
chap's clothes." 

Then came the sound of a soft step crossing the 
carpet, the sound of curtain-rings moving, then a 
blind upshrivelled, letting the light of day upon a 
room never before seen by Jones a Jacobean bedroom, 
severe but exquisite in every detail. 

The man who had pulled the blind-string, and 
whose powerful profile was silhouetted against the 
light, showed to the sun a face highly but evenly 
coloured, as though by the gentle painting of old port 
wine through a long series of years and ancestors. 
The typical colour of the old-fashioned English judge, 
bishop and butler. 

He was attired in a black morning-coat, and his 
whole countenance, make, build and appearance had 
something grave and archiepiscopal most holding to 
the eye and imagination. 

It terrified Jones, who, breathing now as though 
asleep, watched through closed eyelids whilst the 
apparition, with pursed lips, dealt with the blind of 
the other window. 



THE AWAKENING 17 

This done, it passed to the door, conferred in mute 
tones with some unseen person, and return d bearing 
in its hands a porcelain early morning tea-service. 

Having placed this on the table by the bed, the 
apparition vanished, closing the door. 

Jones sat up and looked around him. 

His clothes had disappeared. He always hung his 
trousers on the bedpost at the end of his bed, and 
placed his other things on a chair ; but trousers or 
other things were nowhere visible, they had been 
spirited away. It was at this moment that he noticed 
the gorgeous silk pyjamas he had got on. He held 
out his arm and looked at the texture and pattern. 

Then in a flash came comfort and understanding. 
He was in Rochester's house. Rochester must have 
sent him here last night. That apparition was 
Rochester's manservant. The vision of Rochester 
turned from an evil spirit to an angel, and, filled with 
a warm sensation of friendliness towards the said 
Rochester, he was in the act of pouring out a cup of 
tea when the words he had heard spoken in the passage 
outside came back to him. 

" Took all his money and sent him home in another 
chap's clothes." 

What did that mean ? 

He finished pouring out the tea and drank it ; there 
was thin bread and butter on a plate, but he disregarded 
it. Whose money had been taken, and who had been 
sent home in another chap's clothes ? 

Did those words apply to him or to Rochester ? 
Had Rochester been robbed, might he (Jones) be held 
accountable ? 

A deep uneasiness, and a passionate desire for his 
garments, begotten of these queries, brought him out 
of bed and on to the floor. He came to the nearer 



18 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

window and looked out. The window gave upon St. 
James' Park, a cheerful view beneath the sky of a 
perfect summer's morning. He turned from the 
window, and, crossing the room, opened the door 
through which the apparition had vanished. 

A thickly carpeted corridor lay outside, a corridor 
silent as the hypogeum of the Apis, secretive, gorgeous, 
with tasselled silk curtains and hanging lamps. Jones 
judged these lamps to be of silver, and worth a thousand 
dollars apiece. He had read the " Arabian Nights " 
when a boy, and, like a waft now from the garden of 
Aladdin, came a vague something stirring his senses 
and disturbing his practical nature. He wanted his 
clothes. This silent gorgeour had raised the desire 
for his garments to a passion. He wanted to get into 
his boots and face the world, and face the worst. 
Swinging lamps of silver, soft carpets, silken curtains, 
only served to heighten his sensitiveness as to his 
apparel and whole position. 

He came back into the room. His anger was 
beginning to rise, the nervous anger of a man who has 
made a fool of himself, upon whom a jest is being 
played, and who finds himself in a false position. 

Seeing an electric button by the fireplace, he went to 
it and pressed it twice, hard, then he opened the 
second door of the room and found a bathroom. 

A Pompeian bathroom with tessellated floor, marble 
walls and marble ceiling. The bath was sunk in the 
floor. Across hot-water pipes, plated with silver, 
hung towels of huckaback, white towels with cardinal- 
red fringes. Here, too, most un-Pompeian, stood a 
wonderful dressing-table, one solid slab of glass, with 
razors set out, manicure instruments, brushes, pomade- 
pots, scent-bottles. 

Jones came into this place, walked round it like a 



THE AWAKENING 19 

cat in a strange larder, gauged the depth of the bath, 
glanced at the things on the table, and was in the act 
of picking up one of the manicure implements when a 
sound from the bedroom drew his attention. 

Someone was moving about there. Someone who 
seemed altering the position of chairs and arranging 
things. 

He judged it to be the servant who had answered the 
bell ; he considered that it was better to have the thing 
out now and have done with it. He wanted a full 
explanation, and bravely, but with the feelings of a 
man who is entering a dental parlour, he came to the 
bathroom door. 

A pale-faced, agile-looking young man with glossy 
black hair, a young man in a sleeved- waistcoat, a 
young man carrying a shirt and set of pink silk under- 
garments over his left arm, was in the act of placing a 
pair of patent-leather boots with kid tops upon the 
floor. A gorgeous dressing-gown lay upon the bed. 
It had evidently been placed there by the agile 
one. 

Jones had intended to ask explanations. That 
intention shrivelled somehow in the act of speech. 
What he uttered was a very mildly framed request. 

" Er can I have my clothes, please ? " said Jones. 

' Yes, my lord," replied the other. " I am placing 
them out." 

The instantaneous anger raised by the patent fact 
that he was being guyed by the second apparition was 
as instantly checked by the recollection of Rochester. 
Here was another practical joke. This house was 
evidently Rochester's the whole thing was plain. 
Well, he would show that tricky spirit how he could 
take a joke and turn it on the maker. Like Brer 
Rabbit, he determined to lie low. 

2* 



20 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

He withdrew into the bathroom, and sat down on 
the rush-bottomed chair by the table, his temper 
coiled and ready to fly out like a spring. He was 
seated like this, curling his toes and nursing his resolve, 
when the agile one, with an absolute gravity that dis- 
armed all anger, entered with the dressing-gown. He 
stood holding it up, and Jones, rising, put it on. Then 
the A.O. filled the bath, trying the temperature with a 
thermometer, and so absorbed in his business that he 
might have been alone. 

The bath filled, he left the room, closing the door. 

He had thrown some crystals into the water, scenting 
it with a perfume fragrant and refreshing ; the tem- 
perature was just right, and as Jones plunged and 
wallowed and lay half-floating, supporting himself 
by the silver-plated rails arranged for that purpose, 
the idea came to him that if the practical joke were to 
continue as pleasantly as it had begun, he, for one, 
would not grumble. 

Soothed by the warmth, his mind took a clearer 
view of things. 

If this were a jest of Rochester's, as most certainly 
it was, where lay the heart of it ? Every joke has its 
core, and the core of this one was most evidently the 
likeness between himself and Rochester. 

If Rochester were a lord, and if this were his house, 
and if Rochester had sent him (Jones) home like a 
bundle of goods, then the extraordinary likeness would 
perhaps deceive the servants, and, maybe, other people 
as well. That would be a good joke, promising all 
sorts of funny developments. Only, it was not a joke 
that any man of self-respect would play. But 
Rochester, from those vague recollections of his antics, 
did not seem burdened with self-respect. He seemed 
in his latter developments crazy enough for anything. 



THE AWAKENING 21 

If he had done this, then the servants were not in 
the business ; they would be under the delusion that 
he (Jones) was Rochester, doped and robbed, and 
dressed in another man's clothes and sent home. 

Rochester, turning up later in the morning, would 
have a fine feast of humour to sit down to. 

This seemed plain. The born practical joker, 
coming on his own twin image, could not resist making 
use of it. This explanation cleared the situation, but 
it did not make it a comfortable one. If the servants 
discovered the imposition before the arrival of 
Rochester, things would be unpleasant. He must act 
warily, get downstairs and escape from the place as 
soon as possible. Later on he would settle with 
Rochester. The servants, if they were not partners 
in the joke; had taken him on his face value ; his voice 
had evidently not betrayed him. He felt sure on this 
point. He left the bath, and drying himself, donned 
the dressing-gown. Tooth-paste and a tooth-brush 
stood on a glass tray by a little basin furnished with 
hot and cold water taps, and now, so strangely are 
men constituted, the main facts of his position were 
dwarfed for a second by the consideration that he had 
no tooth-brush of his own. 

Just that little thing brought his energies to a focus 
and his growing irritation. 

He opened the bedroom door. The glossy-haired 
one was putting links in the sleeves of a shirt. 

" Get me a tooth-brush a new one," said Jones 
brusquely, almost brutally. " Get it quick ! " 

" Yes, my lord." 

He dropped the shirt and left the room swiftly, but 
not hurriedly, taking care to close the door softly 
behind him. 

It was the first indication to Jones of a method so 



22 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

complete and a mechanism so perfectly constituted 
that jolts were all but eliminated. 

" I believe if I'd asked that guy for an elephant/' 
he said to himself, " he'd have acted just the same. 
Do they keep a drug-store on the premises ? " 

They evidently kept a store of tooth-brushes, for 
in less than a minute and a half Expedition had 
returned with the tooth-brush on a little lacquered tray. 

Now, to a man accustomed to dress himself, it comes 
as a shock to have his under-pants held out for him to 
get into as though he were a little boy. 

This happened to Jones and they were pink silk. 

A pair of subfusc-coloured trousers, creased and 
looking absolutely new, were presented to him in the 
same manner. He was allowed to put on his own socks 
silk and never worn before but he was not allowed 
to put on his own boots. The perfect valet did that, 
kneeling before him shoe-horn and buttonhook in 
hand. 

Having inducted him into a pink bilk under-vest 
and a soft-pleated shirt, with plain gold links in the 
sleeves, each button of the said links having in its 
centre a small black pearl, a collar, and a subfusc- 
coloured silk tie were handed to him, also a black 
morning vest, and a black morning coat with rather " 
broad braid at the edges. 

A handkerchief of pure white cambric, with a tiny 
monogram in white, was then shaken out and presented. 

Then his valet, intent, silent and seeming to move by 
clockwork, passed to a table on which stood a small 
oak cabinet ; opening the cabinet, he took from it 
and placed on the table a watch and chain. 

His duties were now finished, and, according to some 
prescribed rule, he left the room carefully and softly, 
closing the door behind him. 



THE AWAKENING 23 

Jones took up the watch and chain. 

The watch was as thin as a five-shilling piece, the 
chain was a mere thread of gold. It was an evening 
affair, to be worn with dress clothes, and this fact 
presented to the mind of Jones a confirmation of the 
idea that not only was he literally in Rochester's shoes, 
but that Rochester's ordinary watch and chain had 
not returned. 

He sat down for a moment to consider another point. 
His own old Waterbury and rolled gold chain, and the 
few unimportant letters in his pockets where were 
they? 

He determined to clear this matter at once, and 
boldly rang the bell. 

The valet answered it. 

" When I came back last night er was there 
anything in my pockets ? " asked he. 

" No, my lord. They had taken everything from 
the pockets." 

" No watch and chain ? " 

" No, my lord." 

" Have you the clothes I came back in ? " 

" Yes, my lord." 

" Go and fetch them." 

The man disappeared, and returned in a minute with 
a bundle of clothes neatly folded on his arm. 

"Mr. Church told me to keep them careful, lest 
you'd want to put the matter in the hands of the 
police, my lord ; shockin' old things they are." 

Jones examined the things. They were his own. 
Everything he had worn yesterday lay there, and the 
sight of them filled his mind with a nostalgia and a 
desire for them a home-sickness and a clothes- 
sickness beyond expression. 

He was absolutely sure from the valet's manner 



24 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

that the servants were not " in the know/' A wild 
impulse came to him to take the exhibitor of these 
remnants of his past into his confidence. To say out : 
" I'm Jones Victor Jones, of Philadelphia. I'm no 
lord. Gimme those clothes and let me out of this 
let's call it quits ! " 

The word " Police " already dropped held him back. 
He was an impostor innocent enough, it is true, 
but still an impostor. If he were to declare the facts 
before Rochester returned, what might be the result ? 
Whatever the result might be, one thing was certain 
it would be unpleasant. Besides, he was no prisoner ; 
once downstairs he could leave the house. 

So, instead of saying, " I'm Victor Jones, of Phila- 
delphia," he said, " Take them away." And finding 
himself alone once more, he sat down to consider. 

Rochester must have gone through his pockets, not 
for loot, but for the purpose of removing any article 
that might cast suspicion, or raise the suspicion that 
he (Jones) was not Rochester. That seemed plain 
enough, and there was an earnestness of purpose in 
the fact that was disturbing. 

There was no use in thinking, however. He would 
go downstairs and make his escape. He was savagely 
hungry, but he reckoned the " Savoy " was good enough 
for one meal if he could get there. 

Leaving the watch and chain unambitious to add 
a charge of larceny to his other troubles, should Fate 
arrest him before the return of Rochester he came 
down the corridor to a landing giving upon a flight of 
stairs, up which, save for the gradient, a coach and 
horses might have been driven. 

The place was a palace. Vast pictures by gloomy 
old artists, pictures of men in armour, men in ruffs, 
women without armour or ruffs, or even a rag of 



THE AWAKENING 25 

chiffon, pictures worth millions of dollars, no doubt, 
hung from the walls of the landing and the wall 
flanking that triumphant staircase. 

Jones looked over into the well of the hall, then he 
began to descend the stairs. 

He had intended, on finding a hat in the hall, to 
clap it on and make a clean bolt for freedom and the 
light of heaven, get back to the " Savoy," dress him- 
self in another suit, and, once more himself, go for 
Rochester ; but this was no hall with a hat-rack and 
umbrella-stand. Knights in armour were guarding it, 
and a flunkey six feet high, in red plush breeches and 
with calves that would have made Victor Jones scream 
with laughter under normal conditions. 

The flunkey, seeing our friend, stepped to a door, 
opened it, and held it open for him. Not to enter the 
room thus indicated would have been possible enough, 
but the compelling influence of that vast flunkey-made 
it impossible to Jones. 

His volition had fled, he was subdued to his sur- 
roundings, for the moment, conquered. 

He entered a breakfast-room, light and pleasantly 
furnished, where, at a breakfast-table and before a 
silver tea-urn, sat a lady of forty or so, thin-faced, 
high-nosed, aristocratic, and rather faded. 

She was reading a letter, and when she saw the in- 
comer she rose from the table and gathered some other 
letters up. Then she literally swept from the room. 
She looked at him as she passed, and it seemed to Jones 
that he had never known before the full meaning of 
the word " scorn." 

For a wild second he thought that all had been 
discovered, that the police were now sure to arrive. 
Then he knew at once. Nothing had been discovered ; 
the delusion held even for this woman. That glance 



26 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

was meant for Rochester, not for him, and was caused 
by the affair of last night ; by other things too, maybe, 
but that surely. 

Uncomfortable, angry, nervous, wild to escape, 
and then yielding to caution, he took his seat at the 
table where a place was laid, evidently for him. 

The woman had left an envelope on the table ; he 
glanced at it. 

" Lady Venetia Birdbrook, 

" IOA, Carlton House Terrace, 

" London, S.W." 

Victor read the inscription, written in a bold, female 
hand. 

It told him where he was. He was in the breakfast- 
room of IOA, Carlton House Terrace, but it told him 
nothing more. 

Was Lady Venetia Birdbrook his wife, or, at 
least, the wife of his twin image ? This thought 
blinded him for a moment to the fact that a flunkey 
they seemed as numerous as flies in May was at his 
elbow asking him would he have kippers or scrambled 
eggs, whilst another flunkey, who seemed to have 
sprung from the floor, was fiddling at the sideboard, 
which contained cold edibles tongue, ham, chicken, 
and so forth. 

" Scrambled eggs," said he. .j 

" Tea or coffee, my lord ? " 

" Coffee." 

He broke a breakfast roll and helped himself 
mechanically to some butter, which was instantly 
presented to him by the sideboard fiddler, and he had 
just taken a mechanical bite of buttered roll when the 
door opened, and the archiepiscopal gentleman who 



THE AWAKENING 27 

had pulled up his window blind that morning 
entered. 

Mr. Church for Jones had already gathered that 
to be his name carried a little yellow basket filled 
with letters in his right hand, and in his left a great 
sheaf the Times, Daily Telegraph, Morning Post, 
Daily Mail, Daily Express, Chronicle and Daily News. 
These papers he placed on a side table evidently 
intended for that purpose. The little letter-basket he 
placed on the table at Jones's left elbow. 

Then he withdrew, but not without having spoken 
a couple of murmured words of correction to the 
flunkey near the sideboard, who had omitted, no 
doubt, some point in the mysterious ritual of which 
he was an acolyte. 

Jones glanced at the topmost letter. 

" The Earl of Rochester, 

" IOA, Carlton House Terrace, 

" London, S.W." 

Ah, now he knew it ! The true name of the juggler 
who had played him this trick. It was plain, too, 
now, that Rochester had sent him here as a substitute. 

But the confirmation of his idea did not ease his 
mind. On the contrary, it filled him with a vague 
alarm. The feeling of being in a trap came upon 
him now for the first time. The joke had lost any 
semblance of colour, the thing was serious. Rochester 
ought to have been back to put an end to the business 
before this. Had anything happened to him ? Had 
he got gaoled ? 

He did not touch the letters. Without raising 
suspicion, acting as naturally as possible the part of 
a peer of the realm, he must escape as swiftly as 
possible from this nest of flunkeys, and with that 



28 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

object in view he accepted the scrambled eggs now 
presented to him, and the coffee. 

When they were finished, he rose from the table. 
Then he remembered the letters. Here was another 
tiny tie. He could not leave them unopened and 
untouched on the table without raising suspicion. 
He took them from the basket, and with them in his 
hand left the room, the fellow in waiting slipping 
before to open the door. 

The hall was deserted, for a wonder, deserted by 
all but the men in armour. A room where he might 
leave the infernal letters, and find a bell to fetch a 
servant to get him a hat, was the prime necessity of 
the moment. 

He crossed to a door directly opposite, opened it, 
and found a room, half-library, half-study, a pleasant 
room used to tobacco, with a rather well-worn Turkey 
carpet on the floor, saddle-bag easy-chairs, and a great 
escritoire in the window, open and showing pigeon- 
holes containing notepaper, envelopes, telegraph forms, 
and a rack containing the "ABC Railway Guide," 
" Whitaker's Almanac," " Ruff's Guide to the Turf," 
" Who's Who," and " Kelly." 

Pipes were on the mantelpiece, a silver cigar-box 
and cigarette-box on a little table by one of the easy- 
chairs, matches nothing was here wanting, and 
everything was of the best. 

He placed the letters on the table, opened the cigar- 
box, and took from it a Roman Alones a blunt- 
ended weapon for the destruction of melancholy and 
unrest, four and a half inches long, and costing perhaps 
half a crown a real Havana cigar. Now, in London 
there are only four places where you can obtain a real 
and perfect Havana cigar that is to say, four shops. 
And at those four shops or shall we call them em- 



THE AWAKENING 29 

poriums ? only known and trusted customers can 
find the sun that shone on the Vuelta Abajos in such 
and such a perfect year. 

The Earl of Rochester's present representative was 
finding it now, with little enough pleasure, however, 
as he paced the room preparatory to ringing the bell. 
He was approaching the electric button for this pur- 
pose, when the faint and faraway murmuring of an 
automobile, as if admitted by a suddenly opened hall 
door, checked his hand. Here was Rochester at last. 
He waited listening. 

He had not long to wait. 

The door of the room suddenly opened, and the 
woman of the breakfast-table disclosed herself. She 
was dressed for going out, wearing a hat that seemed 
a yard in diameter, and a feather boa, from which her 
hen-like face and neck rose to the crowning triumph 
of the hat. 

" I am going to mother," said she. " I am not 
coming back." 

" Um-um," said Jones. 

She paused. Then she came right in and closed the 
door behind her. 

Standing with her back close to the door she spoke 
to Jones. 

" If you cannot see your own conduct as others see 
it, who can make you ? I am not referring to the 
disgrace of last night, though, Heaven knows that was 
bad enough. I am talking of everything, of your poor 
wife, who loves you still, of the estate you have ruined 
by your lunatic conduct, of the company you keep, of 
the insults you have heaped on people and now you 
add drink to the rest. That's new." She paused. 
11 That's new. But I warn you, your brain won't 
stand that. You know the taint in the family as well 



30 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

as I do ; it has shown itself in your actions ; well, go 
on drinking and you will end in Bedlam instead of 
the workhouse. They call you ' Mad Rochester/ you 
know that." She choked. " I have blushed to be 
known as your sister. I have tried to keep my place 
here and save you. It's ended." 

She turned to the door. 

Jones had been making up his mind. He would 
tell the whole affair. This Rochester was a thorough 
bad lot, evidently ; well, he would turn the tables 
on him now. 

" Look here," said he. "I am not the man you 
think I am." 

" Tosh ! " cried the woman. 

She opened the door, passed out, and shut it with 
a snap. 

" Well, I'm d d," said Jones, for the second 

time in connection with Rochester. 

The clock on the mantelpiece pointed to quarter 
to eleven, the faint sound of the car had ceased. The 
lady of the feather boa had evidently taken her 
departure, and the house had resumed its cloistral 
silence. 

He waited a moment to make sure, then he went 
into the hall where a huge flunkey a new one, more 
curious than the others was lounging near the door. 

" My hat," said Jones. 

The thing flew, and returned with a glossy silk hat, 
a tortoiseshell-handled cane, and a pair of new suede 
gloves of a delicate dove colour. Then it opened the 
door, and Jones, clapping the hat on his head, walked 
out. 

The hat fitted, by a mercy. 



CHAPTER V 

THE POINT OF THE JOKE 

OUT in the open air and sunshine, he tooK a 
deep, satisfying breath. He felt as though he 
had escaped from a cage full of monkeys. Monkeys 
in the form of men, creatures who would servilely 
obey him as Rochester, but who, scenting the truth, 
would rend him in pieces. 

Well, he was clear of them. Once back in the 
" Savoy " he would get into his own things, and once 
in his own things he would strike. If he could not 
get a lawyer to take his case up against Rochester, he 
would go to the police. Yes, he would. Rochester 
had doped him, taken his letters, taken his watch. 

Jones was not the man to bring false charges ; he 
knew that in taking his belongings, this infernal jester 
had done so, not for plunder, but for the purpose of 
making the servants believe that he, Rochester, had 
been stripped of everything by sharks, and sent home 
in an old suit of clothes ; all the same, he would charge 
Rochester with the taking of his things he would 
teach this practical joker how to behave. 

To cool himself and collect his thoughts before 
going to the " Savoy " he took a walk in St. James' 
Park. 

That one word " Tosh ! " uttered by the woman, in 

3* 



32 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

answer to what he had said, told him more about 
Rochester than many statements. This man wanted 
a cold bath, he wanted to be held under the tap till 
he cried for mercy. 

K Walking, now with the stick under his right arm 
and his left hand in his trousers-pocket, he felt some- 
thing in the pocket. It was a coin. He took it out. 
It was a penny, undiscovered evidently, and unremoved 
by the valet. 

It was also a reminder of his own poverty-stricken 
condition. His thoughts turned from Rochester and 
his jokes to his own immediate and tragic position. 
The whole thing was his own fault. It was quite easy 
to say that Rochester had led him along and tempted 
him ; he was a full-grown man, and should have 
resisted temptation. He had let strong drink get 
hold of him ; well, he had paid by the loss of his 
money, to say nothing of the way his self-respect had 
been bruised by this jester. 

Near Buckingham Palace he turned back, walking 
by the way he had come, and leaving the park at the 
new gate. 

He crossed the plexus of ways where Northumber- 
land Avenue debouches on Trafalgar Square. It was 
near twelve o'clock, and the first evening papers were 
out. A hawker with a bundle of papers under his 
arm and a yellow poster in front of him like an apron, 
drew his attention, at least the poster did. 

" Suicide of an American in London/' were the 
words on the poster. 

Jones, remembering his penny, produced it, and 
bought a paper. 

The American's suicide did not interest him, but 
he fancied vaguely that something of Rochester's 
doings of the night before might have been caught by 



THE POINT OF THE JOKE 33 

the Press through the police news. He thought it 
highly probable that Rochester, continuing his mad 
course, had been gaoled. 

He was rewarded. Right on the first page he saw 
his own name. He had never seen it before in print, 
and the sight and the circumstance made his tongue 
cluck back, as though chucked by a string tied to its 
root. 

This was the paragraph. 

" Last night, as the 11.30 Inner Circle train was 
entering the Temple Station, a man was seen to jump 
from the platform on to the metals. Before the station 
officials could interfere to save him, the unfortunate 
man had thrown himself before the incoming engine. 
Death was instantaneous. 

" From papers in possession of deceased, his identity 
has been verified as that of Mr. V. A. Jones, an 
American gentleman of Philadelphia, lately resident 
at the Savoy Hotel, Strand." 

Jones stood with the paper in his hand, appalled. 
Rochester had committed suicide ! 

This was the jest the black core of it.- All last 
evening, all through that hilarity he had been plotting 
this. Plotting it perhaps from the first moment of 
their meeting. Unable to resist the prompting of the 
extraordinary likeness, this joker, this waster, done 
to the world, had left life at the end of a last jamboree, 
and with a burst of laughter leaving another man 
in his clothes, nay, almost one might say, in his body 

Jones saw the point of the thing at once. 



PART II 
CHAPTER I 

THE NET 

HE saw something else. He was automatically 
barred from the " Savoy," and barred from 
the American Consul. And, on top of that, something 
else. He had committed a very grave mistake in 
accepting for a moment his position. He should have 
spoken at once that morning, spoken to " Mr. Church," 
told his tale and made explanations ; failing that, he 
should have made explanations before leaving the 
house. He had left in Rochester's clothes, he had 
acted the part of Rochester. 

He rolled the paper into a ball, tossed it into the 
gutter, and entered Charing Cross Station to continue 
his soliloquy. 

He had eaten Rochester's food, smoked one of his 
cigars, accepted his cane and gloves. All that might 
have been explainable with Rochester's aid, but 
Rochester was dead. 

No one knew that Rochester was dead. To go back 
to the " Savoy " and establish his own identity, he 
would have to establish the fact of Rochester's death, 
tell the story of his own intoxication, and make people 
believe that he was an innocent victim. > 

An innocent victim who had gone to another man's 
house, and palpably masqueraded for some hours as 

34 



THE NET 35 

that other man, walking out of the house in his clothes 
and carrying his stick, an innocent victim, who owed 
a bill at the " Savoy." 

Why, every man, the family included, you may be 
sure, would be finding the innocent victim in Rochester. 

What were Jones's letters doing on Rochester ? That 
was a nice question for a puzzle-headed jury to answer. 

By what art did Jones, the needy American adven- 
turer that was what they would call him impose 
himself upon Rochester, and induce Rochester to 
order him to be taken to Carlton House Terrace ? 

Oh, there were a lot more questions to be asked at 
that phantom court of justice, where Jones beheld 
himself in the dock trying to explain the inexplicable. 

The likeness would not be any use for white- 
washing ; it would only deepen the mystery, make 
the affair more extravagant. Besides, the likeness 
most likely by this would be pretty well spoiled ; 
by the time of the assizes it would be only verifiable 
by photographs. 

Sitting on a seat in Charing Cross Station, he 
cogitated thus, chasing the most fantastic ideas, yet 
gripped all the time by the cold fact. 

The fact that the only door in London open to him 
was the door of IOA, Carlton House Terrace. 

Unable to return to the " Savoy," he possessed 
nothing in the world but the clothes he stood up in, 
and the walking-stick he held in his hand. Dressed 
like a lord, he was poorer than any tramp, for the 
simple reason that his extravagantly fine clothes 
barred him from begging, and from the menial work 
that is the only recourse of the suddenly destitute. 

Given time, and with his quick business capacity, 
he might have made a fight to obtain a clerkship, or 
some post in a store but he had no time. It was 

3* 



36 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

near the luncheon hour, and he was hungry. That 
fact alone was an indication of how he was placed as 
regards time. 

He was a logical man. He saw clearly that only 
two courses lay before him. To go to the " Savoy " 
and tell his story and get food and lodging in the 
police station, or to go to IOA, Carlton House Terrace 
and get food and lodging as Rochester. 

Both ideas were hateful, but he reckoned, and with 
reason, that if he took the first course, arrest and 
ignominy, and probably imprisonment, would be 
certain, whereas if he took the second he might be 
able to bluff the thing out till he could devise means of 
escape from the net that surrounded him. 

He determined on the second course. The servants, 
and even that scarecrow woman in the feather boa, 
had accepted him as good coin, there was no reason 
why they should not go on accepting him for a while. 
For the matter of that, there was no reason why they 
should not go on accepting him for ever. 

Even in the midst of his disturbance of mind and 
general tribulation, the humour of the latter idea 
almost made him smile. The idea of living and dying 
as Lord Rochester, as a member of the English aris- 
tocracy, always being " my lorded," served by flunkeys 
with big calves, and inducted every morning into his 
under-pants by that guy in the sleeved jacket. 

This preposterous idea, more absurd than any 
dream, was yet based on a substantive foundation. 
In fact, he had that morning put it in practice, and 
unless a miracle occurred he would have to continue 
putting it in practice for some days to come. 

However, Jones, fortunately or unfortunately for 
himself, was a man of action and no dreamer. He 
dismissed the idea and came to practical considerations. 



THE NET 37 

If he had to hold on to the position, he would have 
to make more sure of his ground. 

He rose, found his way into Charing Cross Station 
Hotel, and obtained a copy of " Who's Who," from 
the hotel clerk. 

He turned the pages till he found the R's. Here 
was his man. 

" Rochester, 21 Earl of (cr. 1431), Arthur Coningsby 
Delamere. Baron Coningsby of Wilton, ex-Lieut., 
Rifle Brigade. M. Teresa, 2nd daughter of Sir Peter 
Mason, Bart., q.v. Educ. Heidelberg. Owns about 
21,000 acres. Address : IOA, Carlton House Terrace. 
Rochester Court, Rochester. The Hatch, Colney, 
Wilts. Clubs : Senior Conservative, National Sport- 
ing, Pelican." 

That was only a part of the sayings of " Who's 
Who " regarding Rochester, Arthur Coningsby Dela- 
mere, the last decadent descendant of a family that 
had been famous in long past years for its power, 
prodigality, and profligacy. 

If Jones could have climbed up his own family tree 
he might have found on some distaff branch the reason 
of his appalling likeness to Rochester, Arthur Con- 
ingsby Delamere, but that is a pure matter of specula- 
tion, and it did not enter the mind of Jones. 

He closed the book, returned it, and walked out. 

Now that his resolve was made, his fighting spirit 
was roused. In other words, he felt the same reckless- 
ness that a man feels who is going into battle, the 
disregardlessness of consequence, which marks your 
true explorer. For Stanley on the frontier of Darkest 
Africa, Scott on the ice-rim of the Beardmore Glacier, 
had before them positions and districts simple in com- 
parison to those that now fronted Jones, who had 



38 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

before him the western and south-western London 
districts, with all they contained in the way of natives 
in top-hats, natives painted and powdered, tribes with 
tribal laws of which he knew little, tricks of which he 
knew less, convenances, jujus and fetishes. And he 
was entering this dark, intricate, and dangerous 
country, not as an explorer, carrying beads and Bibles, 
but disguised as a top man, a chief. 

Burton's position when he journeyed to Mecca, dis- 
guised as a Mohammedan, was easy compared to the 
position of Jones. Burton knew the ritual. He 
made one mistake in it, it is true, but then he was able 
to kill the man who saw him make that mistake. 
Jones could not protect himself in this way, even if 
the valet in the sleeved jacket were to discover him 
in a position analogous to Burton's. 

He was not thinking of any of these things at the 
present moment, however, he was thinking of luncheon. 
If he were condemned to play the part of a lord for 
awhile, he was quite determined to take his salary in 
the way of everything he wanted. Yet it seemed that 
to obtain anything he wanted in his new and extra- 
ordinary position he would have to take something he 
did not want. He wanted luncheon, but he did not 
want to go back to Carlton House Terrace at least, not 
just now. Those flunkeys the very thought of them 
gave him indigestion ; more than that, he was afraid 
of them. A fear that was neither physical nor moral, 
but more in the nature of the fear of women for mice, 
or the supposed fear of the late Lord Roberts for cats. 

The solemn Church, the mercurial valet, the men 
with calves, belonged to a tribe that, maybe, had 
done Jones to death in some past life, either bored him 
to death or bludgeoned him ; it did not matter, the 
antipathy was there, and it was powerful. 



THE NET 89 

At the corner of Northumberland Avenue an idea 
came to him. This Rochester belonged to several, 
clubs why not go and have luncheon at one of them 
on credit ? It would save him for the moment from 
returning to the door towards which Fate was shep- 
herding him, and he might be able to pick up some 
extra wrinkles about himself and his position. The 
idea was indicative of the daring of the man, though 
there was little enough danger in it. He was sure of 
passing muster at a club, since he had done so at home. 
He carried the names of two of Rochester's clubs in 
his mind the Pelican and the Senior Conservative. 
The latter seemed the more stodgy, the least likely 
to offer surprises in the way of shoulder-clapping, 
irresponsible parties who might want to enter into 
general conversation. 

He chose it, asked a policeman for directions, and 
made for Pall Mall. 

Here another policeman pointed out to him the 
building he was in search of. 

It stood on the opposite side of the way, a building 
of grey stone, vast and serious of feature, yet opulent 
and hinting of the best in all things relative to comfort. 

It was historical. Disraeli had come down those 
steps, and the great Lord Salisbury had gone up them. 
Men to enter this place had to be born not made, and 
even these selected ones had to put their names 
down at birth, if they wished for any chance of lunch- 
ing there before they lost their teeth and hair. 

It took twenty-one years for the elect to reach this 
place, and on the way they were likely to be slain by 
black balls. 

Victor Jones just crossed the road and went up the 
steps. 



CHAPTER II 

LUNCHEON 

HE had lunched at the " Constitutional" with a 
chance acquaintance picked up on his first 
week in London, so he knew something of the ways 
of English clubs, yet the vast hall of this place daunted 
him for a moment. 

However, the club servants seeming to know him, 
and recognizing that indecision is the most fatal 
weakness of man, he crossed the hall, and, seeing some 
gentlemen going up the great staircase, he followed to 
a door on the first landing. 

He saw through the glass swing-doors that this was 
the great luncheon-room of the club, and, having made 
this discovery, he came downstairs again, where good 
fortune, in the form of a bald-headed man without hat 
or stick, coming through a passage way, indicated the 
cloak-room to him. 

Here he washed his hands and brushed his hair, and, 
looking at himself in a glass, judged his appearance 
to be conservative and all right. He, a democrat of 
the democrats in this hive of aristocracy and old crusted 
conservatism, might have felt qualms of political 
conscience but for the fact that earthly politics, social 
theories, and social instincts were less to him now than 
to an inhabitant of the dark body that tumbles and 
fumbles around Sirius. Less than the difference 

40 



LUNCHEON 41 

between the minnow and the roach to the roach in 
the landing-net. 

Leaving the place, he almost ran into the arms of 
a gentleman who was entering, and who gave him a 
curt '1 H' do ! " 

He knew that man. He had seen his newspaper 
portrait in America as well as England. It was the 
leader of his Majesty's Opposition, the queen bee of 
this hive where he was about to sit down to lunch. 
The queen bee did not seem very friendly, a fact that 
augured ill for the attitude of the workers and the 
drones. 

Arrived at the glass swing-doors before mentioned, 
he looked in. 

The place was crowded. 

It looked to him as though, for the space of a mile 
and a half or so, lay tables, tables, tables, all occupied 
by twos and threes and fours of men. Conservative 
looking men, and, no doubt, mostly lords. 

It was too late to withdraw, without shattering his 
own self-respect and self-confidence. The cold bath 
was before him, and there was no use putting a toe in. 

He opened the door and entered, walking between 
the tables, and looking the luncheon parties in the face. 

The man seated has a tremendous advantage over 
the man standing in this sort of game. One or two of 
the members met by the new-comer's glance bowed in 
the curious manner of the seated Briton, the eyes of 
others fell away, others nodded frigidly, it seemed to 
Jones. Then, like a pilot fish before a shark leading 
him to his food, a club waiter developed and piloted 
him to a small, unoccupied table, where he took a 
seat and looked at the menu handed to him by the 
pilot. 

He ordered fillet of sole, roast chicken, salad, and 



42 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

strawberry ice. They were the easiest things to order. 
He would have ordered roast elephant's trunk had it 
been easier and on the menu. 

A man after the storming of Hell Gate, or just 
dismounted after the charge of the Light Brigade, 
would have possessed as little instinct for menu- 
hunting as Jones. 

He had pierced the ranks of the British aristocracy 
that was nothing ; he was seated at their camp fire, 
sharing their food, and they were all inimical towards 
him that was everything. 

He felt the draught. He felt that these men had 
a down on him, felt it by all sorts of senses that seemed 
newly developed. Not a down on him (Jones) but a 
down on him Rochester, Arthur Coningsby Dela- 
mere, 2ist Earl of. 

And the extraordinary thing was that he felt it. 
What on earth did it matter to him if these men looked 
coldly upon another man ? It did. It mattered quite 
a lot, more than, perhaps, it ever mattered to the other 
man. Is the soul such a shallow and blind thing that 
it cannot sort the true from the false, the material 
from the immaterial, see that an insult levelled at a 
likeness is not an insult levelled at it ? 

Surely not, and yet the soul of Victor Jones resented 
the coolness of others towards the supposed body of 
Rochester, as though it were a personal insult. 

It was the first intimation to Jones that when the 
actor puts on his part he puts on more than a cloak or 
trunk hose, that the personality he had put on had 
nerves curiously associated with his own nerves, and 
that, though he might say to himself a hundred times 
with respect to the attitudes of other people, " Pah! 
th^y don't mean me ! " that formula was no charm 
against disdain. 



LUNCHEON 43 

The wine butler, a gentleman not unlike Mr. Church, 
was now at his elbow, and he found himself contem- 
plating the wine-card of the Senior Conservative, a 
serious document, if one may judge by the faces of the 
men who peruse it. 

It is, in fact, the Almanach de Gotha of wines. The 
old kings of wine are here, the princes, and all the 
aristocracy. Unlike the Almanach de Gotha, however, 
the price of each is set down. Unlike the Almanach 
de Gotha, the names of a few commoners are admitted. 

Macon was here, and even Blackways' cyder, the 
favourite tipple of the old Duke of Taunt on. 

Jones ran his eye over the list without enthusiasm. 
He had taken a dislike to alcohol even in its mildest 
guise. 

" Er what minerals have you got ? " asked he. 

" Minerals ? " 

The man with the wine-card was nonplussed. Jones 
saw his mistake. 

" Soda-water," said he. " Get me some soda- 
water." 

The fillet of sole with sauce Tartare was excellent. 
Nothing, not even the minerals could dim that fact. 
As he ate he looked about him, and with all the more 
ease, because he found now that nobody was looking 
at him, his self-consciousness died down, and he began 
speculating on the men around, their probable rank, 
fortune and intellect. It seemed to Jones that the 
latter factor was easier of determination than the other 
two. 

What struck him more forcibly was a weird resem- 
blance between them all, a phantom thing, a link 
undiscoverable yet somehow there. This tribal 
expression is one of the strangest phenomena eternally 
confronting and battering our senses. 



44 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Just as men grow like their wives, so do they grow 
like their fellow-tradesmen, waiters like waiters, 
grooms like grooms, lawyers like lawyers, politicians 
like politicians. More, it has been undeniably proved 
that landowners grow like landowners, just as shep- 
herds grow like sheep, and aristocrats like aristocrats. 
A common idea moulds faces to its shape, and a 
common want of ideas allows external circumstances 
to do the moulding. 

So, English Conservative politicians of the higher 
'order being worked upon by external circumstances of 
a similar nature, have perhaps a certain similar ex- 
pression. Radical politicians, on the other hand, 
shape to a common idea evil, but still an idea. 

Jones was not thinking this, he was just recognizing 
that all these men belonged to the same class, and he 
felt in himself that not only did he not belong to that 
class, but that Rochester also, probably, had found 
himself in the same position by temperament. 

That might have accounted for the wildness and 
eccentricity of Rochester, as demonstrated in that mad 
carouse, and hinted at by the woman in the feather boa. 
The wildness of a monkey condemned to live amongst 
goats, hanging on to their horns, and clutching at their 
scutts, and playing all the tricks that contrariness 
might suggest to a contrary nature. 

Something of this sort was passing through Jones's 
mind, and, as he attacked his strawberry ice, for the 
first time since reading that momentous piece of news 
in the evening paper, his mental powers became 
focussed on the question that lay at the very heart 
of all this business. It struck him now so very forcibly 
that he laid down his spoon and stared before him, 
forgetful of the place where he was and the people 
around him. 



LUNCHEON 45 

'' Why did that guy commit suicide ? " 

That was the question. 

He could find no answer to it. 

A man does not, as a rule, commit suicide simply 
because he is eccentric or because he has made a mess 
of his estates, or because, being a practical joker, he 
suddenly finds his twin image to defraud. Rochester 
had evidently done nothing to bar him from society ; 
though perhaps coldly received by his club, he was 
still received by it. Had he done something that 
society did not know of, something that might suddenly 
obtrude itself ? 

Jones was brought back from this reverie with a 
snap. One of the confounded waiters was making off 
with his half-eaten ice. 

" Hi ! " cried he. " What you doing ? Bring 
that back ! " 

His voice rang through the room, people turned to 
look. He mentally cursed the ice and the creature 
who had snapped it from him, finished it, devoured a 
wafer, and then, rising to his feet, left the room. It 
was easier to leave than to come in, other men were 
leaving, and in the general break up he felt less 
observed. 

Downstairs he looked through glass doors into a 
room where men were smoking, correct men in huge 
arm-chairs, men with legs stretched out, men smoking 
big cigars and talking politics, no doubt. He wanted 
to smoke, but he did not want to smoke in that place. 

He went to the cloak-room, fetched his hat and cane 
and gloves, and left the club. 

Outside in Pall Mall he remembered that he had not 
told the waiter to credit him with the luncheon, but a 
trifle like that did not bother him now. They would 
be sure to put it down. 



46 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

What did trouble him was the still unanswered 
question : 

' Why did that guy commit suicide ? " 
Suppose Rochester had murdered some man and 
had committed suicide to escape the consequences ? 
This thought gave him a cold grue such as he had never 
experienced before. For a moment he saw himself 
hauled before a British court of justice ; for a moment, 
and for the first time in his life, he found himself 
wondering what a hangman might be like. 

But Victor Jones, though a visionary sometimes in 
business, was at base a business man. More used to 
his position now, and looking it fairly in the face, he 
found that he had little to fear even if Rochester had 
committed a murder. He could, if absolutely driven 
to it, prove his identity. Driven to it, he could prove 
his life in Philadelphia, bring witnesses and relate 
circumstances. His tale would all hang together, 
simply because it was the truth. This inborn assur- 
ance heartened him a lot, and, more cheerful now, he 
began to recognize more of the truth. His position 
was very solid. Everyone had accepted him. Unless 
he came an awful bump over some crime committed 
by the late defunct, he could go on for ever as the Earl 
of Rochester. He did not want to go on for ever as 
the Earl of Rochester. He wanted to get back to the 
States and just be himself, and he intended so to do, 
having scraped a little money together. But the idea 
tickled him just as it had done in Charing Cross 
Station, and it had lost its monstrous appearance, and 
had become humorous, a highly dangerous appearance 
for a dangerous idea to take. 

Jones was a great walker, exercise always cleared 
his mind and strengthened his judgment. He set off 
on a long walk now, passing through Piccadilly to 



LUNCHEON 47 

Regent Circus, then up Regent Street and Oxford 
Street, and along Oxford Street towards the West. 
He found himself in High Street, Kensington, in 
Hammersmith, and then in those dismal regions 
where the country struggles with the town. 

Oh, those suburbs of London ! Within easy reach 
of the City ! Those battalions of brick houses, bits 
of corpses of what once were fields, those villas, 
laundries ! 

The contrast between this place and Pall Mall came 
as a sudden revelation to Jones, the contrast between 
the power, ease, affluence and splendour of the sur- 
roundings of the Earl of Rochester and the surround- 
ings of the bank clerks and small people who dwelt 
here. 

The viewpoint is everything. From here Carlton 
House Terrace seemed almost pleasing. 

Jones, like a good Democrat, had all his life pro- 
fessed a contempt for rank. Titles had seemed as 
absurb to him as feathers in a monkey's cap. It was 
here in ultra Hammersmith that he began to review 
this question from a more British standpoint. 

Tell it not in Gath, he was beginning to feel the 
vaguest antipathetic stirring against little houses and 
ultra people. 

He turned and began to retrace his steps. It was 
seven o'clock when he reached the door of IOA, Carlton 
House Terrace. 



CHAPTER III 

MR. VOLES 

THE flunkey who admitted him, having taken 
his hat, stick, and gloves, presented him with 
a letter that had arrived by the midday post, also with 
a piece of information. 

" Mr. Voles called to see you, my lord, shortly after 
twelve. He stated that he had an appointment with 
you. He is to call again at a quarter-past seven." 

Jones took the letter and went with it to the room 
where he had sat that morning. Upon the table lay 
all the letters that he had not opened that morning. 
He had forgotten these. Here was a mistake. If he 
wished to hold to his position for even a few days, it 
would be necessary to guard against mistakes like this. 

He hurriedly opened them, merely glancing at the 
contents, which for the most part were unintelligible 
to him. 

There was a dinner invitation from Lady Snorries 
whoever she might be and a letter beginning " Dear 
old boy," from a female who signed herself " Julie " ; 
an appeal from a begging-letter writer, and a letter 
beginning " Dear Rochester," from a gentleman who 
signed himself simply " Childersley." 

The last letter he opened was the one he had just 
received from the servant. 



MR. VOLES 49 

It was written on poor paper, and it ran : 

" Stick to it if you can. You'll see why I couldn't. 
There's a fiver under the papers of the top right-hand 
drawer of bureau in smoke-room. 

" ROCHESTER." 

Jones knew that this letter> though addressed to 
the Earl of Rochester, was meant for him, and was 
written by Rochester, written probably on some bar 
counter, and posted at the nearest pillar-box just 
before he had committed the act. 

He went to the drawer in the bureau indicated, 
raised the papers in it, and found a five-pound note. 

Having glanced at it, he closed the drawer, placed 
the note in his waistcoat pocket, and sat down again 
at the table. 

" Stick to it if you can." The words rang in his 
ears just as though he had heard them spoken. 

Those words, backed by the five-pound note, 
wrought a great change in the mind of Jones. He 
had Rochester's permission to act as he was acting, 
and a little money to help in his actions. 

The fact of his penury had been like a wet blanket 
upon him all day. He felt that power had come to 
him with permission. He could think clearly now. 
He rose and paced the floor. 

" Stick to it if you can ! " 

Why not why not why not ? He found himself 
laughing out loud. A great gush of energy had come 
to him. Jones was a man of that sort. A new and 
great idea always came to him on the crest of a wave 
of energy. The British Government Contract idea 
had come to him like that, and the wave had carried 
him to England, 

4 



50 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Why not be the Earl of Rochester, make good his 
position finally, stand on the pinnacle where Fate 
had placed him, and carry this thing through to its 
ultimate issue ? 

It would not be all jam. Rochester must have 
been very much pressed by circumstances. That did 
not frighten Jones. To him the game was everything, 
and the battle. 

He would make good where Rochester had failed, 
meet the difficulties that had destroyed the other, 
face them, overcome them. 

His position was unassailable. 

Coming over from New York, he had read Nelson's 
shilling edition of the " Life of Sir Henry Hawkins." 
He had read with amazement the story of British 
credulity expressed in the Tichborne case. How 
Arthur Orton, a butcher, scarcely able to write, had 
imposed himself on the public as Roger Tichborne, a 
young aristocrat of good education. 

He contrasted his own position with Orton's. 

He was absolutely unassailable. 

He went to the cigar-box, chose a cigar, and lit it. 

There was the question of handwriting. That 
suddenly occurred to him, confronting his newly- 
formed plans. He would have to sign cheques, write 
letters. A typewriter could settle the latter question, 
and as for the signature, he possessed a sample of 
Rochester's, and would have to imitate it. At the 
worst he could pretend he had injured his thumb 
that excuse would last some time. 

" There's one big thing about the whole business/' 
said he to himself, " and that is the chap's eccentricity. 
Why, if I'm shoved too hard, I can pretend to have 
lost my memory or my wits. There's not a blessed card 
I haven't either in my hand or up my sleeve, and if 



MR. VOLES 51 

worst comes to worst, I can always prove my identity 
and tell my story." 

He was engaged with thoughts like these when the 
door opened and the servant, bearing a card on a 
salver, announced that Mr. Voles, the gentleman who 
had called earlier in the day, had arrived. 

" Bring him in," said Victor. 

The servant retired, and returned immediately, 
ushering in Voles, who entered carrying his hat before 
him. The stranger was a man of fifty, a tubby man, 
dressed in a black frock coat, covered, despite the 
summer weather, by a thin black overcoat with silk 
facings. His face was evil thick-skinned, yellow, 
heavy nosed ; the hair of the animal was jet black, 
thin, and presented to the eyes of the gazer a small 
Disraeli curl upon the forehead of the owner. 

The card announced : 

" MR. A. S. VOLES, 

" 126, Jermyn Street." 

Voles himself, and unknown to himself, announced 
a lot of other things. 

Victor Jones had a sharp instinct for men, well 
whetted by experience. 

He nodded to the new-comer curtly, and without 
rising from his chair ; the servant shut the door, and 
the two men were alone. 

Just as a dog's whole nature livens at the smell of 
a polecat, so did Jones's nature at the sight of Voles. 
He felt this man to be an enemy. 

Voles came to the table and placed his hat upon it. 
Then he turned, went to the door and opened it to see 
if the servant was listening. 

He shut the door. 

4* 



52 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Well," said he, " have you got the money for 
me?" 

Another man in Jones's position might have asked, 
and with reason, " What money ? " 

Jones simply said " No." 

This simple answer had a wonderful effect. Voles, 
about to take a seat, remained standing, clasping the 
back of the chair he had chosen. Then he burst out : 
' You fooled me yesterday, and gave me an appoint- 
ment for to-day. I called, you were out." 

" Was I ? " 

" Were you ? You said the money would be here 
waiting for me well, here I am now. I've got a cab 
outside ready to take it." 

" And suppose I don't give it to you ? " asked Jones. 

" We won't suppose any nonsense like that," replied 
Voles, taking his seat ; " not so long as there is the 
law." 

" That's true," said the other. ' We don't want 
the law." 

" You don't," replied Voles. 

He was staring at Jones. The Earl of Rochester's 
voice struck him as not quite the same as usual ; 
more spring in it and vitality altered, in fact. But 
he supposed nothing of the truth. Passed as good coin 
by Voles, Jones had nothing to fear from any man or 
woman in London, for the eye of Voles was unerring, 
the ear of Voles ditto, the mind of Voles balanced like 
a jeweller's scales. 

" True," said Jones, " I don't. Well, let's talk about 
this money. Couldn't you take half to-night and 
half in a week's time ? " 

" Not me," replied the other. " I must have the 
two thousand to-night, same as usual." 

Jones had the whole case in his hands now, and he 



MR. VOLES 58 



began preparing the toast on which to put this most 
evident blackmailer when cooked. 

His quick mind had settled everything. Here 
was the first obstacle in his path ; it would have to be 
destroyed, not surmounted. He determined to destroy 
it. If the worst came to the worst, if whatever crime 
Rochester had committed were to be pressed home on 
him by Voles, he would declare everything, prove 
his identity by sending for witnesses from the States, 
and show Rochester's letter. The blackmailing would 
account for Rochester's suicide. 

But Jones knew blackmailers, and he knew that 
Voles would never prosecute. Rochester must indeed 
have been a weak fool not to have grasped this nettle 
and torn it up by the roots. He forgot that Rochester 
was probably guilty that makes all the difference in 
the world. 

" You shall have the money," said he. " But, see 
here, let's make an end of this. Now, let's see. How 
much have you had already ? " 

" Only eight," said Voles. " You know that well 
enough, why ask ? " 

" Eight thousand," murmured the other. " You 
have had eight thousand pounds out of me, and the 
two to-night will make ten. Seems a good price for 
a few papers." 

He made the shot on spec. It was a bull's-eye. 

"Oh, those papers are worth a good deal more than 
that," said Voles, " a good deal more than that." 

So it was documents, not actions that the black- 
mailer held in suspense over the head of Rochester. 
It really did not matter a button to Jones ; he stood 
ready to face murder itself, armed as he was with 
Rochester's letter in his pocket, and the surety of 
being able to identify himself. 



54 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Well/' said he, " let's finish this business. Have 
you a cheque-book on you ? " 

" I have a cheque-book right enough. What's 
your game now ? " 

" Just an idea of mine before I pay you. Bring 
out your cheque-book, you'll see what I mean in a 
minute." 

Voles hesitated, then, with a laugh, he took the 
cheque-book from the breast-pocket of his overcoat. 

" Now tear out a cheque." 

" Tear out a cheque ! " cried the other. " What 
on earth are you getting at one of my cheques ? 
This is good." 

" Tear out a cheque," insisted the other ; "it will 
only cost you a penny, and you will see my meaning 
in a moment." 

The animal, before the insistent direction of the 
other, hesitated, then, with a laugh, he tore out a 
cheque. 

" Now place it on the table." 

Voles placed it on the table. 

Jones, going to the bureau, fetched pen and ink. 
He pushed a chair to the table, and made the other sit 
down. 

" Now," said Jones, " write me out a cheque for 
eight thousand pounds." 

Voles threw down the pen with a laugh it was 
his last in that room. 

" You won't ? " said Jones. 

" Oh, quit this fooling ! " replied the other. " I've 
no time for such stuff. What are you doing now ? " 

" Ringing the bell," said Jones. 

Voles, just about to pick up the cheque, paused. 
He seemed to find himself at fault for a moment. 
The jungle beast that hears the twig crack beneath 



MR. VOLES 55 

the foot of the man with the express rifle pauses like 
that over his bloody meal on the carcase of the decoy 
goat. 

The door opened, and a servant appeared ; it was 
the miracle with calves. 

" Send out at once and bring in an officer a police- 
man," said Jones. 

" Yes, my lord." 

The door shut. 

Voles jumped up and seized his hat. Jones walked 
to the door and locked it, placing the key in his 
pocket. 

" I've got you," said he, " and I'm going to squeeze 
you, and I'm going to make you squeal." 

" You're going to you're going to you're going 
to " said Voles. 

He was the colour of old ivory. 

"I'm going to make you go through this 

" Here ! D n this nonsense ! Stop it, you fool I 

I'll smash you ! " said Voles. " Here ! Open that 
door and stop this business ! " 

" I told you I was going to make you squeal," said 
Jones ; " but that's nothing to what's coming." 

Voles came to the table, and put down his hat. 
Then, facing Jones, he rapped with the knuckles of his 
right hand on the table. 

" You've done it now," said he. " You've laid 
yourself open to a nice charge, false imprisonment, 
that's what you've done ! A nice thing in the papers 
to-morrow morning, and intimidation on top of that. 
Over and above those there's the papers. /'// have 
no mercy. Those papers go to Lord Plinlimon to- 
morrow morning, you'll be in the Divorce Court this 
day month, and so will she. Reputation ! She won't 
have a rag to cover herself with." 



56 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Oh, won't she ? " said Jones. " This is most 
interesting." 

He felt a great uplift of the heart. So this blackmail 
business had to do with a woman. The idea that 
Rochester was some horrible form of criminal had 
weighed upon him. It had seemed to him that no man 
would pay such a huge sum as eight thousand pounds 
in the way of blackmail unless his crime were in propor- 
tion. Rochester had evidently paid it to shield, not 
only his own name, but the name of a woman. 

" Most interesting," said Voles. "I'm glad you 
think so ! " Then, in a burst : " Come, open that 
door, and stop this nonsense ! Take that key out of 
your pocket and open the door. You always were a 
fool, but this is beyond folly. The pair of you are in 
the hollow of my hand ! You know it. I can crush 
you like that like that like that ! " 

He opened and shut his right hand. A cruel hand 
it was, hairy as to the back, huge as to the thumb. 

Jones looked at him. 

' You are wasting a lot of muscular energy," said 
he. " My determination is made, and it holds. You 
are going to prison, Mr. Filthy Beast Voles. I'm up 
against you, that's the plain truth. I'm going to cut 
you open, and show your inside to the British public. 
They'll be so lost in admiration at the sight, they won't 
bother about the woman or me. They'll call us public 
benefactors, I reckon. You know men, and you know 
when a man is determined. Look at me, look at me 
in the face, you sumph 

A knock came at the door. 

Jones took the key from his pocket and opened the 
door. 

" The constable is here, my lord," said the servant. 

" Tell him to come in," said Jones. 



MR. VOLES 57 

Voles had taken up his hat again, and he stood now 
by the table, hat in hand, looking exactly what he was, 
a criminal on his defence. 

The constable was a fresh-looking and upstanding 
young man ; he had removed his helmet, and was 
carrying it by the chin-strap. He had no bludgeon, 
no revolver, yet he impressed Jones almost as much as 
he impressed the other. 

" Officer," said Jones, " I have called you in for the 
purpose of giving this man in charge for attempt- 
ing 

" Stop ! " cried Voles. 

Then something Oriental in his nature took charge 
of him. He rushed forward with arms out as though to 
embrace the policeman. 

"It is all a mistake ! " cried he. " Constable, one 
moment, go outside one moment ! Leave me with his 
lordship. I will explain. There is nothing wrong, it is 
all a big mistake ! " 

The constable held him off, glancing for orders at 
Jones. 

Jones felt no vindictiveness towards Voles now ; 
disgust, such as he might have felt towards a vulture 
or a cormorant, but no vindictiveness. 

He wanted that eight thousand pounds. 

He had determined to make good in his new position, 
to fight the world that Rochester had failed to fight, 
and overcome the difficulties sure to be ahead of him. 
Voles was the first great difficulty, and, lo, it seemed 
that he was about not only to destroy it, but turn it 
to a profit. He did not want the eight thousand for 
himself ; he wanted it for the game, and the fascina- 
tion of that great game he was only just beginning to 
understand. 

" Go outside, officer," said he to the constable. 



58 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

He shut the door. " Sit down and write," said 
he. 

Voles said not a word. He went to the table, sat 
down, and picked up the pen. The cheque was still 
lying there. He drew it towards him. Then he flung 
the pen down, then he picked it up, but he did not write. 
He waved it between finger and thumb, as though he 
were beating time to a miniature orchestra staged on 
the table before him. Then he began to write. 

He was making out a cheque to the Earl of Rochester 
for the sum of eight thousand pounds, no shillings, no 
pence. 

He signed it " A. S. Voles." 

He was about to cross it, but Jones stopped him. 

" Leave it open/' said he. " And now one thing 
more. I must have those papers to-morrow morning 
without fail. And to make certain of them you must 
do this." 

He went to the bureau and took a sheet of note- 
paper, which he laid before the other. 

"Write," said he. "I will dictate. Begin 
' June 2nd.' ' 

Voles put the date. 

' My lord,' " went on the dictator, " ' this is to 
promise you that to-morrow morning I will hand to 
the messenger you send to me all the papers of yours 
in my possession. I confess to having held those 
papers over you for the purpose of blackmail, and of 
having obtained from you the sum of eight thousand 
pounds. And I promise to amend my ways and to 
endeavour to lead an honest life. 

" (Signed) A. -S. VOLES. 
" ' To the Earl of Rochester.' " 

That was the letter. 



MR. VOLES 59 

Three times the rogue at the table refused to go on 
writing, and three times Ms master went to the door, 
the rattle of the door-handle always inspiring the scribe 
to renewed energy. 

When the thing was finished, Jones read it over, 
blotted it, and put it in his pocket with the cheque. 

" Now you can go," said he. "I will send a man 
to-morrow morning at eight o'clock to your home for 
the papers. I will not use this letter against you unless 
you give trouble. Well, what do you want ? " 

" Brandy ! " gasped Voles. " For God's sake 
some brandy ! " 



CHAPTER IV 

MORE INTRUDERS 

THE little glass that had held the fin champagne 
stood on the table, the door was shut, Voles 
was gone, and the incident ended. 

Jones, for the first time in his life, felt the faintness 
that comes after supreme exertion. He could never 
have imagined that a thing like that would have so 
upset him. He was unconscious during the whole of 
the business that he was putting out more energy than 
ordinary ; he knew it now as he contemplated the 
magnitude of his victory, sitting exhausted in the big, 
saddle-bag chair on the left of the fireplace and facing 
the door. 

He had crushed the greatest rogue in London, taken 
from him eight thousand pounds of ill-gotten money, 
and freed himself of an incubus that would have made 
his position untenable. 

Rochester could have done just the same, had he 
possessed daring and energy and courage enough. 
He hadn't, and there was an end of it. 

At this moment a knock came to the door, and a 
flunkey a new one appeared. 

" Dinner is served, my lord." 

Jones sat up in his chair. 

60 



MORE INTRUDERS 61 

" Dinner? " said he. ''I'm not ready for it yet. 
Fetch me a whisky-and-soda ! Look here, tell Church 
I want to see him." 

" Yes, my lord." 

Jones possessed that very rare attribute an eye 
for men. It was quite unknown to him ; up to this 
he had been condemned to take men as he found them, 
the pressure of circumstances alone had made him a 
business partner with Aaron Stringer. He had never 
trusted Stringer. Now, being in a position of com- 
mand, he began to use this precious gift, and he selected 
Church for a first officer. He wanted a hench- 
man. 

The whisky-and-soda arrived, and, almost imme- 
diately on it, Church. 

Jones, placing the half-empty glass on the table, 
nodded to him. 

" Come in," said he, " and shut the door." 

Church closed the door and stood at attention. 
This admirable man's face was constructed not with a 
view to the easy interpretation of emotions. I doubt 
if an earthquake in Carlton House Terrace and the 
vicinity could have altered the expression of it. 

He stood as if listening. Jones began : 

" I want you to go to-morrow at eight o'clock to 
No. I2b, Jermyn Street, and get some documents for 
me. They will be handed to you by A. S. Voles." 

' Yes, my lord." 

' You will bring them back to me here." 

" Yes, my lord." 

" I have just seen the gentleman, and I've just 
dealt with him. He is a very great rogue, and I had 
to call an officer a constable in. I settled him." 

Mr. Church opened his mouth as though he were 
going to speak. Then he shut it again. 



62 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Go on," said Jones. " What were you going 
to say ? " 

" Well, your lordship, I was going to say that I 
am very glad to hear that. When you told me, four 
months ago, in confidence, what Voles was having out 
of you, you will remember what advice I gave your 
lordship. ' Don't be squeezed ! ' I said. ' Squeeze 
him/ Your lordship's solicitor, Mr. Mortimer Collins, 
I believe, told you the same." 

" I have taken your advice. I find it so good, that 
I am going to ask your advice often again. Do you 
see any difference in me, Church ? " 

" Yes, my lord, you have changed, if your lordship 
will excuse me for saying so." 

" How ? " 

" You have grown younger, my lord, and more 
yourself, and you speak different sharper, so to say." 

These words were balm of Gilead to Jones. He 
had received nc opinion of himself from others till now ; 
he had vaguely mistrusted his voice, unable to estimate 
in how much it differed from Rochester's. The 
perfectly frank declaration of Church put his mind at 
rest. He spoke sharper, that was all. 

" Well," said he, " things are going to be different 
all round better, too." 

He turned away towards the bureau, and Church 
opened the door. 

" You don't want me any longer, my lord ? " 

" Not just now." 

He opened Kelly's directory, and looked up the 
solicitors till he came to the name he wanted. 

Mortimer Collins, 10, Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street. 

" That's my man," said he to himself, " and to- 
morrow I will see him." He opened the door and left 
the room. 



MORE INTRUDERS 63 

He did not know the position of the dining-room, 
nor did he want to. A servant seeing him, and taking 
it for granted that at this late hour he did not want to 
dress, opened a door. 

Next minute he was seated alone at a large table, 
stared at by defunct Rochesters and their wives, and 
spreading his table napkin on his knees. 

The dinner was excellent, though simple enough. 
English society has drifted a long way from the days 
when Lord Palmerston sat himself down to devour 
two helpings of turtle soup, the same of cod and oyster 
sauce, a huge plateful of York ham, a cut from the 
joint, a liberal supply of roast pheasant, to say nothing 
of kickshaws and sweets. 

The days when the inside of a nobleman after 
dinner was a provision store, floating in sherry, hock, 
champagne, old port, and punch. 

Nothing acts more quickly upon the nervous system 
than food. Before the roast chicken and salad were 
served, Jones found himself enjoying the dinner, and, 
more than that, enjoying his position. 

The awful position of the morning had lost its 
terrors, the fog that had surrounded him was breaking. 
Wrecked on this strange, luxuriant, yet hostile coast, 
he had met the natives, fed with them, fought them, 
and measured their strength and cunning. 

He was not afraid of them now. The members of 
the Senior Conservative Club camp had left him 
unimpressed, and the wild beast Voles had bequeathed 
to him a lively contempt for the mental powers of the 
man he had succeeded. 

Rightly or wrongly, all lords caught a tinge of the 
lurid light that showed up Rochester's want of vim 
and mental hitting power. 

But he did not feel a contempt for lords as such. 



64 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

He was beginning to appreciate the fact that to be a 
lord was to be a very great thing. Even a lord who had 
let his estates run to ruin, like himself. ' 

A single glass of champagne he allowed himself 
only one established this conviction in his mind, 
also the recognition that the flunkeys no longer 
oppressed him, they rather pleased him. They knew 
their work, and performed it perfectly, they hung on 
his every word and movement. 

Yesterday, sitting where he was, he would have 
been feeling out of place and irritable and awkward ; 
even a few hours ago he would have felt oppressed and 
wanting to escape somewhere by himself. What lent 
him this new magic of assurance and sense of mastery 
of his position ? Undoubtedly it was his battle with 
Voles. 

Coffee was served to him in the smoking-room, and 
there, sitting alone with a cigar, he began clearly, and 
for the first time, to envisage his plans for the 
future. 

He could drop everything and run. Book a passage 
for the United States, enter New York as Lord 
Rochester, just as a diver enters the sea, and emerge 
as Jones. He could keep the eight thousand pounds 
with a clear conscience or couldn't he ? 

This point seemed a bit obscure. 

He did not worry about it much. The main 
question had not to do with money. The main 
question was simply this : " Shall I be Victor Jones 
for the future, or shall I be the Earl of Rochester 
the twenty-first Earl of Rochester ? Shall I clear 
out or stick to my guns ? Remain boss of this show, 
and try and make something of the wreckage, or sneak 
off with nothing to show for the most amazing 
experience man ever underwent ? " 



MORE INTRUDERS 65 

Rochester had sneaked off. He was a quitter. 
Jones had once read a stor'y in a popular magazine in 
which a railway manager had cast scorn on a ne'er- 
do-well. 

" Heaven does surely hate a quitter/' said the 
manager. 

These words always remained with him. They 
had crystallized his sentiments in this respect ; the 
quitter ranked in his mind almost with the sharper. 

All the same, the temptation to quit was strong, 
even though the temptation to stay was growing. 

A loophole remained open to him. It was not 
necessary to decide at once ; he could throw down 
his cards at any moment and rise from the table if 
the game was getting too much for him, or if he grew 
tired of it. 

He quite saw difficult times ahead for him in the 
mess in which Rochester had left his affairs that 
was, perhaps, his strongest incentive to remain. 

He was roused from his reverie by voices in the 
hall loud, cheery voices. 

A knock came to the door, and a servant announced : 

" Sir Hugh Spicer and Captain Stark to see you, 
my lord." 

Jones sat up in his chair. 

" Show them in," said he. 

The servant went out, and returned, ushering in 
a short, bibulous looking young man in evening dress, 
covered with a long, fawn-coloured overcoat ; this 
gentleman was followed by a half-bald, evil-looking 
man of fifty or so, also in evening attire. 

This latter wore a monocle in what Jones afterwards 
mentally called " his twisted face." 

" Look at him ! " cried the young man, " sitting in 
his blessed arm-chair and not dressed. Look at him ! " 



66 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

He lurched slightly as he spoke, and brought up at 
the table, where he hit the inkstand with the cane he 
was carrying, sending inkpot and pens flying. 

Jones looked at him. 

This was Hughie. Pillar of the " Criterion " bar, 
president of the Rag Tag Club, baronet and detrimental 
and all at twenty- three. 

" Leave it alone, Hughie," said Stark, going to the 
silver cigar-box and helping himself. " Less of that 
blessed cane, Hughie why, Jollops, what ails you ? " 

He stared at Jones as he lit a cigar. Jones looked 
at him. 

This was Spencer Stark, late captain in His Majesty's 
Black Hussars, gambler, penniless, always well dressed, 
and always well fed terrible. Just as beetles are 
beetles, whether dressed in tropical splendour or the 
funereal black of the English type, so are detrimentals 
detrimentals. Jones knew his men. 

" I beg your pardon," said he. " Did you mean 
that name for me ? " 

He rose as he spoke, and crossing to the bell, rang 
it. They thought he was speaking in jest and ringing 
for drinks ; they laughed, and Hughie began to yell, 
yell and slash the table with his cane in time to what 
he was yelling. 

This beast, who was never happy unless smashing 
glasses, making a noise, or tormenting his neighbours, 
who had never been really sober for the space of some 
five years, who had destroyed a fine estate, and broken 
his mother's heart, seemed now endeavouring to break 
his wanghee cane on the table. 

The noise was terrific. 

The door opened and calves appeared. 

" Throw that ruffian out," said Jones. 

" Out with him ! " cried Hughie, throwing away 



MORE INTRUDERS 67 

his cane at this joke. " Come on, Stark, let's shove 
old Jollops out of doors." 

He advanced to the merry attack, and Stark, livened 
up by the other, closed in, receiving a blow on the 
midriff that seated him in the fender. 

The next moment Hughie found himself caught by 
a firm hand, that had somehow managed to insert 
itself between the back of his collar and his neck, 
gripping the collar. 

Choking and crowing, he was rushed out of the 
room and across the hall to the front door, a running 
footman preceding him. The door was opened, and 
he was flung into the street. 

The ejection of Stark was an easier matter. The 
hats and coats were flung out, and the door shut 
firmly. 

" If either of those guys come here again," said 
Jones to the acolyte, " call an officer I mean a 
constable." 

' Yes, my lord." 

" I wonder how many more people I will have to 
fling out of this house ? " said he to himself as he 
returned to the smoking-room. " My Heaven, what 
a mess that chap Rochester must have made all 
round ! Bar loungers like those ! Phew ! " 

He ordered the ink to be cleared up, and then he 
sent for Mr. Church. He was excited. 

" Church," said he, " I've shot out two more of 
that carrion. You know all the men I have been fool 
enough to know. If they come here again, tell the 
servants not to let them in." 

But he had another object in sending for Church. 

;< Where's my cheque-book ? " he asked. 

Church went to the bureau and opened a lower 
drawer. 

5* 



68 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" I think you placed it here, my lord." He 
produced it. 

When he had gone Jones opened the book ; it was 
one of Coutts's. 

He knew his banker now as well as his solicitor. 
Then he sat down, and, taking Rochester's note from 
his pocket, began to study the handwriting and 
signature. 

He made a hundred imitations of the signature, and 
found for the first time in his life that he was not bad 
at that sort of work. 

Then he burnt the sheets of paper he had been 
using, put the cheque-book away, and looked at the 
clock. It pointed to eleven. 

He switched out the lights and left the room, taking 
his way upstairs. 

He felt sure of being able to find the bedroom he 
had left that morning, and coming along the softly-lit 
corridor he had no difficulty in locating it. He had 
half dreaded that the agile valet in the sleeved jacket 
might be there waiting to tuck him up, but, to his 
relief, the room was vacant. 

He shut the door, and, going to the nearest window, 
pulled the blind up for a moment. 

The moon was rising over London, and casting her 
light upon the Park. A huge summer moon. The 
sort of moon that conjures up ideas about guitars and 
balconies. 

Jones undressed, and, putting on the silk pyjamas 
that were laid out for him, got into bed, leaving only 
the light burning by the bedside. 

He tried to recall the details of that wonderful 
day, failed utterly, switched out the light, and went 
to sleep. 



CHAPTER V 

LADY PLINLIMON 

THE most curious thing in the whole of Jones's 
extraordinary experiences was the way in 
which things affecting Rochester affected him. 

The coldness of the club members was an instance 
in point. He knew that their coldness had nothing 
to do with him, yet he resented it practically just 
as much as though it had. 

Then, again, the case of Voles. What had made 
him fight Voles with such vigour ? It did not matter 
to him in the least whether Voles gave Rochester 
away or not, yet he had fought Voles with all the 
feelings of the man who is attacked, not of the man 
who is defending another man from attack. 

The attitude of Spicer and the other scamp had 
roused his ire on account of its want of respect for 
him, the supposed Earl of Rochester. Rochester's 
folly had inspired that want of respect, why should 
he (Jones) bother about it ? He did. It hit him 
just as much as though it were levelled against him- 
self. He had found, as yet to a limited degree, but 
still he had found that anything that would hurt 
Rochester would hurt him, that his sensibility was 
just as acute under his new guise, and, wonder of 
wonders, his dignity as a lord just as sensitive as 
his dignity as a man v 



70 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

If you had told Jones in Philadelphia that a day 
would come when he would be angry if a servant did 
not address him as " my lord," he would have thought 
you mad. Yet that day had come, or was coming, 
and that change in him was not in the least the result 
of snobbishness, it was the result of the knowledge of 
what was due to Rochester, Arthur Coningsby Dela- 
mere, twenty-first earl of, from whom he could not 
disentangle himself whilst acting his part. 

He was awakened by Mr. Church pulling up his 
window blinds. 

f He had been dreaming of the boarding-house in 
Philadelphia where he used to live, of Miss Wybrow, 
the proprietress, and the other guests Miss Sparrow, 
Mr. Moese (born Moses), Mr. Hoffman, the part- 
proprietor of Sharpes' Drug Store, Mrs. Bertine, and 
the rest. 

He watched whilst Church passed to the door, 
received the morning tea-tray from the servant out- 
side, and, placing it by the bed, withdrew. This was 
the only menial service which Church ever seemed to 
perform, with the exception of the stately carrying in 
of papers and letters at breakfast- time. 

Jones drank his tea. Then he got up, went to the 
window, looked out at the sunlit Park, and then 
rang his bell. He was not depressed or nervous this 
morning. He felt extraordinarily fit. The power- 
ful good spirits natural to him, a heritage better 
than a fortune, were his again. Life seemed wonder- 
fully well worth living, and the game before him the 
only game worth playing. 

Then the Mechanism came into the room and began 
to act, James was the name of this individual. 
Dumb and serious, and active as an insect, this man 
always filled Jones's mind with wonderment ; he 



LADY PLINLIMON 71 

seemed less a man than a machine. But at least he 
was a perfect machine. 

Fully dressed now, he was preparing to go down, 
when a knock came to the door, and Church came in 
with a big envelope on a salver. 

r< This is what you requested me to fetch from 
Jermyn Street, my lord." 

" Oh, you've been to Jermyn Street ? " 

' Yes, my lord, directly I had served your tea, at 
a quarter to eight I took a taxi." 

" Good ! " said Jones. 

He took the envelope, and Church and the 
valet having withdrawn, he sat down by the 
window to have a look at the contents. 

The envelope contained letters. 

Letters from a man to a woman. Letters from 
the Earl of Rochester to Sapphira Plinlimon. The 
most odiously and awfully stupid collection of love- 
letters ever written by a fool to be read by a wigged 
counsel in a divorce court. 

They covered three months, and had been written 
two years ago. 

They were passionate, idealistic in parts, drivelling. 
He called her his " Ickle teeny weeny treasure." 
Baby language Jones almost blushed as he read. 

" He sure was moulting," said he as he dropped 
letter after letter on the floor. " And he paid eight 
thousand to hold these things back. Well, I don't 
know, maybe I'd have done the same myself. I 
can't fancy seeing myself in the Philadelphia Ledger 
with this stuff tacked on to the end of my name." 

He collected the incriminating documents, placed 
them in the envelope, and came downstairs with it 
in his hand. 

Breakfast was an almost exact replica of the meal 



72 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

of yesterday ; the pile of letters brought in by Church 
was rather smaller, however. 

These letters were a new difficulty ; they would 
all have to be answered, the ones of yesterday and 
the ones of to-day. 

He would have to secure the services of a typist 
and a typewriter ; that could be arranged later on. 
He placed them aside and opened a newspaper. He 
was accustomed enough now to his situation to be 
able to take an interest in the news of the day. At 
any moment his environment might split to admit of 
a new Voles or Spicer, or perhaps some more dangerous 
spectre engendered from the dubious past of Rochester. 
But he scarcely thought of this ; he had gone beyond 
fear, he was up to the neck in the business. 

He glanced at the news of the day, reading as he 
ate. Then he pushed the paper aside. The thought 
had just occurred to him that Rochester had paid 
that eight thousand not to shield a woman's name 
but to shield his own ; to prevent that gibberish being 
read out against him in court. 

This thought dimmed what had seemed a brighter 
side of Rochester, that obscure thing which Jones 
was condemned to unveil little by little and bit by bit. 
He pushed his plate away, and at this moment Church 
entered the breakfast-room. 

He came to the table, and, speaking in a half- 
lowered voice, said : 

" Lady Plinlimon to see you, your lordship." 

" Lady Plinlimon ? " 

' Yes, your lordship. I have shown her into the 
smoking-room." 

Jones had finished breakfast. He rose from the 
table, gathered the letters together, and with them 
in his hand followed Church from the breakfast-room 



LADY PLINLIMON 73 

to the smoking-room. A- big woman in a big hat 
was seated in the arm-chair facing the door. 

She was forty if an hour. She had a large, un- 
pleasant face. A dominating face, fat-featured, 
selfish, and made up by art. 

" Oh, here you are ! " said she as he entered and 
closed the door. ' You see, I'm out early." 

Jones nodded, went to the cigarette-box, took a 
cigarette, and lit it. 

The woman got up and did likewise. She blew the 
cigarette-smoke through her nostrils, and Jones, as 
he watched, knew that he detested her. Then she 
sat down again. She seemed nervous. 

" Is it true what I heard, that your sister has left 
you and gone to live with your mother ? " 

' Yes," said Jones, remembering the bird- woman 
of yesterday morning. 

' Well, you'll have some peace now, unless you let 
her back ; but I haven't come to talk of her. It's 
just this, I'm in a tight place." 

" Oh ! " 

" A very tight place. I've got to have some money ; 
I've got to have it to-day." 

" Oh ! " 

' Yes. I ought to have had it yesterday, but a 
deal I had on fell through. You've got to help me, 
Arthur." 

" How much do you want ? " 

" Fifteen hundred. I'll pay it back soon." 

" Fifteen hundred pounds ? " 

" Yes, of course." 

A great white light, cold and clear as the dawn of 
truth, began to steal across the mind of Jones. Why 
had this woman come to him this morning so quickly 
after the defeat of Voles, who held her letters ? How 



74 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

had Voles obtained those letters ? This question had 
occurred to him before, and this question seemed to 
his practical mind pregnant now with possibilities. 

: ' What do you want the money for ? " asked he. 

" Good heavens ! What a question ! What does 
a woman want money for ? I want it, that's enough ! 
What else will you ask ? " 

" What was the deal you expected money from 
yesterday ? " 

" A Stock Exchange business." 

" What sort of business ? " 

She crimsoned with anger. 

" I haven't come to talk of that. I came as a friend 
to ask you for help. If you refuse well, there that 
ends it." 

" Oh, no, it doesn't/' said he. " I want to ask you 
a question." 

r ' Well, ask it." 

"It's just a simple question." 

" Go on." 

" You expected to receive fifteen hundred pounds 
yesterday ? " 

" I did." 

" Did you expect to receive it from Mr. A. S. Voles ? " 

He saw at once that she was guilty. She half rose 
from her chair, then she sat down again. 

" What on earth do you mean ? " she cried. 

' You know quite well what I mean," replied he. 
" You would have had fifteen hundred of Voles' takings 
on those letters. You heard last night I had refused 
to part. He was only your agent. There's no use 
in denying it. He told me all." 

Her face had turned terrible, white as death, with 
the rouge showing on the white. 

" It is all untrue," she stuttered " it is all untrue ! " 



LADY PLINLIMON 75 

She rose, -staggering. He 'did not want to pursue 
the painful business, the pursuit of a woman was not 
in his line. He went to the door and opened it for her. 

"It is all untrue ! I'll write to you about this 
untrue ! " 

She uttered the words as she passed out. He 
reckoned she knew the way to the hall door, and, shut- 
ting the door of the room, he turned to the fireplace. 

He was not elated. He was shocked. It seemed to 
him that he had never touched and handled wicked- 
ness before, and this was a woman in the highest ranks 
of life ! 

She had trapped Rochester into making love to her, 
and used^Voles to extort eight thousand pounds from 
him on account of his letters. 

She had hypnotized Rochester like a fowl. She was 
that sort. Held the divorce court over him as a 
threat. Could humanity descend lower ? He went 
to " Who's Who " and turned up the " P's " till he 
found the man he wanted. 

" Plinlimon : Third baron, created 1831, Albert 
James, b. March loth, 1862, o.s. of second baron 
and Julia, d. of J. H. Thompson, of Clifton, m.Sapphira, 
d. of Marcus Mulhausen ; educ. privately ; address, 
The Roost, Tite Street, Chelsea." 

Thus spoke " Who's Who." 

" I bet my bottom dollar that chap's been in it as 
well as she," said Jones, referring to Plinlimon, Albert 
James. Then a flash of humour lit the situation. 
Voles had returned eight thousand pounds ; as an 
agent he had received twenty-five per cent., say, 
therefore, he stood to lose at least six thousand. 
This pleased Jones more even than his victory He 
had a racial, radical, soul-rooted antipathy to Voles. 
Not an anger against him, just an antipathy. " Now," 



76 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

said he, as he placed " Who's Who " back on the 
bureau, " let's get off and see Mortimer Collins." 

He left the house, and, calling a taxicab, ordered the 
driver to take him to Serjeants' Inn. He had no plan 
of campaign as regards Collins. He simply wanted to 
explore and find out about himself. Knowledge to 
him in his extraordinary position was armour, and he 
wanted all the armour he could get, fighting, as he was, 
not only the living present, but also another man's past 
and another man's character, or want of character. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE COAL-MINE 

OERJEANTS' INN lies oH Fleet Street, a quiet 
v3 court, surrounded with houses given over to 
the law. The law has always lived there ever since 
that time when, as Stow quaintly put it, " There is 
in and about the City a whole university, as it were, of 
students, practisers, and pleaders, and judges of the 
laws of this realm, not living of common stipends, as 
in other universities it is for the most part done, but 
of their own private maintenance, as being fed either 
by their places or practices, or otherwise by their 
proper revenue, or exhibition of parents or friends 
of their houses there be at this day fourteen in all, 
whereof nine do stand within the liberties of this City, 
and five in the suburbs thereof." 

Serjeants' Inn stood within the liberties, and there 
to-day it still stands, dusty, sedate, once the abode of 
judges and Serjeants, now the home of solicitors. On 
the right of entrance lay the offices of Mortimer 
Collins, an elderly man, quiet, subfusc in hue, tall, 
sparsely bearded, a collector of old prints in his spare 
hours, and one of the most respected members of his 
profession. 

His practice lay chiefly amongst the nobility and 
landed gentry, a fact vaguely hinted at by the white or 

77 



78 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

yellow lettering on the tin deed-boxes that lined the 
walls of his offices, setting forth such names and 
statements as : " The Cave Estate/' " Sir Jardine 
Jardine," " The Blundell Estate," and so forth and 
so on. He knew everyone, and everything about 
everyone, and terrible things about some people, and 
he was to be met with at the best houses. People 
liked him for himself, and he inspired the trust that 
comes from liking. 

It was to this gentleman that Jones was shown in, 
and it was by this gentleman that he was received 
coldly, it is true, but politely. 

Jones, with his usual directness, began the business. 

" I have come to have a serious talk with you," 
said he. 

" Indeed ! " said the lawyer. " Has anything new 
turned up ? " 

" No ; I want to talk about my position generally. 
I see that I have made a fool of myself." 

The man of law raised his hands slightly with fingers 
spread, the gesture was eloquent. 

" But," went on the other, " I want to make good, 
I want to clear up the mess." 

The lawyer sighed. Then he took a small piece of 
chamois leather from his waistcoat pocket and began 
to polish his glasses. 

' You remember what I told you the day before 
yesterday," said he. " Have you determined to take 
my advice ? Then you had nothing to offer me but 
some wild talk about suicide." 

" What advice ? " 

Collins made an impatient gesture. 

" Advice why, to emigrate and try your luck in 
the Colonies." 

" H'm, h'm," said Jones. " Yes, I remember ; but 



THE COAL-MINE 79 

since then I have been thinking things out. I'm going 
to stay here and make good." 

Again the lawyer made a gesture of impatience. 
' You know your financial position as well as I do," 
said he. " How are you to make good, as you express 
it, against that position ? You can't ; you are hope- 
lessly involved, held at every point. A month ago I 
told you to reduce your establishment and let Carlton 
House Terrace. You said you would, and you didn't. 
That hurt me. I would much sooner you had refused 
the suggestion. Well, the crash, if it does not come 
to-day, will come to-morrow. You are overdrawn at 
Coutts', you can raise money on nothing, your urgent 
debts to tradesmen and so forth amount, as you told 
me the day before yesterday, to over two thousand 
five hundred pounds. See for yourself how you stand." 

" I say again," said Jones, " that I am going to make 
good. All these affairs seem to have gone to pieces 
because I have been a fool." 

"I'm glad you recognize that." 

" But I'm a fool no longer. You know that business 
about Voles ? " 

The man of affairs nodded. 

" Well, what do you think of that ? " He took 
Voles' cheque from his pocket and laid it before the 
lawyer. 

" Why, what is this ? " said the other. " Eight 
thousand pounds ! " 

" He called on me for more blackmail," replied Jones, 
" and I squeezed him, called in a policeman, made him 
disgorge, and there's his cheque. Do you think he has 
money enough to meet it ? " 

" Oh, yes, he is very wealthy ; but you told me 
distinctly he had only got a thousand out of you." 

Jones swore mentally. To take up the life and past 



80 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

of a rogue is bad, to take up the life and past of a weak- 
kneed and shifty man is almost worse. 

" I told you wrong," said he. 

Collins suppressed a movement of irritation and 
disgust. He was used to dealing with humanity. 

" What can a doctor do for a patient who holds 
back essential facts ? " asked he. " Nothing. How 
can I believe what you say ? " 

" I don't know/' replied the other. " But I just ask 
you to. I ask you to believe I'm changed. I've had a 
shock that has altered my whole nature. I'm not 
the same man who talked to you the day before 
yesterday." 

Collins looked at him curiously. 

' You have altered," said he, " your voice is different, 
somehow, too. I am not going to ask you what has 
brought about this change in your views. I can only 
trust it may be so and permanent." 

" Bedrock," said Jones. "I'm going to begin 
right now. I'm going to let that caravan 

" Caravan ! " 

' The Carlton House place. Your idea is good ; 
will you help me through with it ? I don't know how 
to start letting places ! " 

" I will certainly assist you. In fact, I believe I 
can get you a tenant at once. The Bracebridges want 
just such a home, furnished. I will get my clerk to 
write to them if you really mean it." 

" I mean it." 

" Well, that's something I pressed the point about 
your really meaning it because you were so violently 
opposed to such a course when I spoke of it before. 
In fact, you were almost personal, as though I had 
proposed something disgraceful though it was true 
you came to agree with me at last." 



THE COAL-MINE 81 

" I guess the only disgrace is owing money and not 
being able to pay," said the present Lord Rochester. 
" I've come to see that." 

" Thank Heaven ! " said Collins. 

" I'll take rooms at a quiet hotel," went on the other ; 
" with this eight thousand and the rent from that 
gazabo, I ought to tide over the rocks." 

" I don't see why not I don't really see why not," 
replied Collins cheerfully, " if you are steadfast in 
your purpose. Fortunately, your wife's property is 
untouched, and now about her." 

" Yes," said Jones, with a cold shiver. 

" The love of a good wife," went on the other, " is 
a thing not to be bought ; and I may say I have very 
good reason to believe that, despite all that has 
occurred, you still have your wife's affection. Leaving 
everything else aside, I think your greatest mistake 
was having your sister to live with you. It does not 
do, and, considering Lady Venetia's peculiar temper, 
it especially did not do in your case. Now that things 
are different, would you care to see your wife and have 
a quiet talk over matters ? " 

11 No," said Jones hurriedly. " I don't want to 
see her at least, not yet." 

" Well, please yourself," replied the other. " Per- 
haps later on you will come to see things differently." 

The conversation then closed, the lawyer promising 
to let him know should he secure an offer for the house. 

Jones, so disturbed by his talk about his wife that 
he was revolving in his mind plans to cut the whole 
business, said good-bye, and took his departure. But 
he was not destined to leave the building just yet. 

He was descending the narrow old stairs when he 
saw some people coming up, and drew back to let them 
pass. 

6 



82 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

A stout lady led the way, and was followed by an 
elderly gentleman and a younger lady in a large hat. 
' Why it is Arthur ! " cried the stout woman. 
" How fortunate ! Arthur, we have come to see Mr. 
Collins. Such a terrible thing has happened." 

The unfortunate Jones now perceived that the lady 
with the huge hat was the bird-woman, the elderly 
gentleman he had never seen before ; but the elderly 
gentleman had evidently often seen him was most 
probably a near relative, to judge by the frigidity- 
and insolence of his nod and general demeanour. This 
old person had the Army stamp about him, and a 
very decided chin with a cleft in it. 

" Better not talk out here," said he. " Come in- 
come in and see Collins." 

Jones did not want in the least to go in and see 
Collins, but he was burning to know what this dreadful 
thing was that had happened. He half dreaded that 
it had to do with Rochester's suicide. He followed 
the party, and next moment found himself again in 
Collins' room, where the lawyer pointed out chairs to 
the ladies, closed the door, and came back to his desk- 
table, where he seated himself. 

" Oh, Mr. Collins," said the elderly lady, " such a 
dreadful thing has happened ! Coal they have found 
coal ! " She collapsed. 

The old gentleman with the cleft chin took up the 
matter. 

" This idiot," said he, indicating Jones, " has sold 
a coal-mine, worth maybe a million, for five thousand. 
The Glanafwyn property has turned up coal. I only 
heard of it last night, and by accident. Struthers 
said to me straight out in the club : ' Do you know that 
bit of land in Glamorgan Rochester sold to Marcus 
Mulhausen ? ' ' Yes/ I said. ' Well/ said he, ' it's 



THE COAL-MINE 83 

not land, it's the top of the biggest coal-mine in Wales, 
steam coal, and Mulhausen is going to work it himself. 
He was offered two hundred and fifty thousand for 
the land last week ; they have been boring there for 
the last half year/ That's what he told me, and I 
verified it this morning. Of course, Mulhausen spotted 
the land for what it was worth, and laid his trap for 
this fool." 

Jones restrained his emotions with an effort, not 
knowing in the least his relationship to the violent one. 
Mr. Collins made it clear. 

' Your nephew has evidently fallen into a trap, your 
Grace," said he. Then, turning to Jones : " I warned 
you not to sell that land Heaven knows, I knew little 
enough of the district and less of its mineral worth ; 
still, I was averse from parting with land always am 
and especially to such a sharp customer as Mulhausen. 
I told you to have an expert opinion. I had not 
minerals in my mind. I thought, possibly, it might 
be some railway extension in prospect and it was 
your last bit of property without mortgage on it. Yes, 
I told you not to do it, and it's done." 

"Oh, Arthur ! " sighed the elderly woman. ' Your 
last bit of land ! And to think it should go like that ! 
I never dreamed I should have to say those words to 
my son." Then, stiffening and turning to Collins : 
" But I did not come to complain ; I came to see if 
justice cannot be done. This is robbery. That 
terrible man with the German name has robbed Arthur. 
It is quite plain. What can be done ? " 

" Absolutely nothing ! " replied Collins. 

" Nothing ? " 

' Your ladyship must believe me when I say nothing 
can be done. What ground can we have for moving ? 
The sale was perfectly open and above board. Mul- 

6* 



84 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

hausen made no false statements I am right in saying 
that, am I not ? " turning to Jones. 

Jones had to nod. 

" And that being the case we are helpless." 

" But if it can be proved that he knew there was 
coal in the land, and if he bought it concealing that 
knowledge, surely, surely the law can make him give 
it back," said the simple old lady, who, it would seem, 
was Rochester's unfortunate mother. 

Mr. Collins almost smiled. 

' Your ladyship, that would give no handle to the 
law. Now, for instance, if I know that the Canadian 
Pacific Railway, let us say, has discovered coal-bearing 
lands, and if I use that private knowledge to buy your 
Canadian Pacific stock, at, say, one hundred, and if that 
stock rose to three hundred, could you make me give 
you your stock back ? Certainly not. The gain 
would be a perfectly legitimate product of my own 
sharpness." 

" Sharpness," said the bird-woman, " that's just it. 
If Arthur had had even sense, to say nothing of sharp- 
ness, things would have been very different all round 
all round." 

She protruded her head from her boa and retracted 
it. Jones, furious, dumb, with his hands in his pockets 
and his back against the window, said nothing. 

He never could have imagined that a baiting like 
this, over a matter with which he had nothing to do, 
could have made him feel such a fool and such an ass. 

He saw at once how Rochester had been done, and 
he felt, against all reason, the shame that Rochester 
might have felt, but probably wouldn't. His uncle, 
the Duke of Melford for that was the choleric one's 
name his mother, the dowager Countess of Rochester, 
and his sister, Lady Venetia Birdbrook, now all rose 



THE COAL-MINE 85 

up and got together in a covey before making their 
exit and leaving this bad business and the fool who had 
brought it about. 

You can fancy their feelings. A man in Rochester's 
position may be anything, almost, as long as he is 
wealthy, but should he add the crime of poverty to his 
other sins he is lost indeed. And Rochester had not 
only flung his money away, he had flung a coal-mine 
after it. 

No wonder that his uncle did not even glance at him 
again as he left the room, shepherding the two women 
before him. 

" It's unfortunate," said Collins, when they found 
themselves alone. 

It was the mildest thing he could say, and he said it. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE GIRL IN THE VICTORIA 

WHEN Jones found himself outside the office 
at last, and in the bustle of Fleet Street, he 
turned his steps westwards. 

He had almost forgotten the half -formed determina- 
tion to throw down his cards and get up from this 
strange game which he had formed when Collins had 
asked him whether he would not have an interview 
with his wife. This coal-mine business pushed every- 
thing else aside for the moment ; the thought of that 
deal galvanized the whole business side of his nature, 
so that, as he would have said himself, bristles stood 
on it. A mine worth a million pounds traded away for 
twenty-five thousand dollars ! 

He was taking the thing to heart, as though he him- 
self had been tricked by Mulhausen, and now as he 
walked a block in the traffic brought him back from 
his thoughts, and suddenly a most appalling sensation 
came upon him. For a moment he had lost his 
identity. For a moment he was neither Rochester 
nor Jones, but just a void between these two. For 
a moment he could not tell which he was. For a 
moment he was neither. That was the terrible part 
of the feeling. It was due to over-taxation of the brain 
in his extraordinary position, and to the intensive 

86 



THE GIRL IN THE VICTORIA 87 

manner in which he had been playing the part of 
Rochester. It lasted, perhaps, only a few seconds, for 
it is difficult to measure the duration of mental pro- 
cesses, and it passed as rapidly as it had come. 

Seeing a bar, he entered it, and a small glass of 
brandy closed the incident and made him forget it. 
He asked the way to Coutts's Bank, which in 1692 was 
situated at the Three Crowns in the Strand, next 
door to the Globe Tavern, and which still holds the 
same position in the world of commerce, and nearly 
the same in the world of bricks and mortar. 

He reached the door of the bank, and was about 
to enter, when something checked hun. It was the 
thought that he would have to endorse the cheque 
with Rochester's signature. 

He had copied it so often that he felt competent to 
make a fair imitation ; but he had begun life in a bank, 
and he knew the awful eye a bank has for a customer's 
signature. His signature at least, Rochester's must 
be well-known at Coutts's. It would never do to put 
himself under the microscope like that ; besides 
and this thought only came to him now it might be 
just as well to have his money in some place unknown 
to others. Collins, and all that terrible family, knew 
that he was banking at Coutts's ; events might arise 
when it would be necessary for him to be able to lay 
his hands on a secret store of money. 

He had passed the National Provincial Bank in the 
Strand. The name sounded safe, and he determined 
to go there. 

He reached the bank, sent his name in to the manager, 
and was at once admitted. The manager was a solid 
man, semi-bald, with side- whiskers, and an air of old 
English business respectability delightful in these new 
and pushing days. He received the phantom of the 



88 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Earl of Rochester with the respect due to their mutual 
positions. 

Jones, between Coutts's and the National Provincial, 
had done a lot of thinking. He foresaw that, even if 
he were to give in a passable imitation of Rochester's 
signature, all cheques signed in future would have to 
tally with that signature. Now, a man's handwriting, 
though varying, has a personality of its own, and he 
very much doubted as to whether he would be able to 
keep up that personality under the microscopic gaze 
of the bank people. 

He decided on a bold course. He would retain 
his own handwriting. It was improbable that the 
National Provincial had ever seen Rochester's auto- 
graph ; even if they had, it was not a criminal thing 
for a man to alter his style of writing. He endorsed 
the cheque " Rochester," gave a sample of his signa- 
ture, and gave directions for a cheque-book to be sent 
to him at Carlton House Terrace, and took his 
departure. 

He had changed Rochester's five-pound note before 
going to Collins, and he had the change in his pocket 
four pounds, sixteen and sixpence five pounds, 
less the price of a cigar at the tobacconists' where he 
had changed his note, the taxi to Serjeants' Inn, 
and the glass of liqueur brandy. He remembered 
that he still owed for his luncheon yesterday at the 
Senior Conservative, and he determined to go and 
pay for it, and then lunch at some restaurant. Never 
again would he have luncheon at that Conservative 
caravanserai, so he told himself. 

With this purpose in mind, he was standing at a 
crossing near Southampton Street, when a voice 
sounded in his ear, and an arm took his. 
" Hello, Rochy ! " said the voice. 



THE GIRL IN THE VICTORIA 89 

Jones turned, and found himself arm in arm with a 
youth of eighteen or so, a gilded youth, if ever there 
was a gilded youth, immaculately dressed, cheery, 
and with a frank face that was entirely pleasing. 

" Hello ! " said Jones. 

" What became of you that night ? " asked the 
cheery one as they crossed the road, still arm in arm. 

" Which night ? " 

" Which night ? Why, the night they shot us out 
of the Rag Tag Club. Are you asleep, Rawj ester, or 
what ails you ? " 

" Oh, I remember ! " said Jones. 

They had unlinked now, and, walking along together, 
they passed through Trafalgar Square, the unknown 
doing all the talking, a task for which he seemed 
well qualified. 

He talked of things, events, and people absolutely 
unknown to his listener, of horses and men and women. 
He talked Jones into Bond Street, and Jones went 
shopping with him, assisting him in the choice of two 
dozen coloured socks at Beale & Inman's. Outside 
the hosiers' the unknown was proposing luncheon, 
when a carriage, an open victoria, going slowly on 
account of the traffic, drew Jones's attention. 

It was a very smart turn-out, one-horsed, but having 
two liveried servants on the box a coachman and 
a footman with powdered hair. 

In the victoria was seated one of the prettiest girls 
ever beheld by Jones, a lovely creature, dark, with 
deep, dreamy, vague, blue-grey eyes, and a face ah, 
what pen could describe that face, so mobile, piquante, 
and filled with light and inexpressible charm ! 

She had caught Jones's eye ; she was gazing at him 
curiously, half mirthfully, half wrathfully, it seemed 
to him, and now, to his amazement, she made a little 



90 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

movement of the head, as if to say " Come here." 
At the same moment she spoke to the coachman. 
" Portman, stop, please." 
Jones advanced, raising his hat. 
" I just want to tell you," said the beauty, leaning 
a little forward, " that you are a silly old ass ! 
Venetia has told me all. It's nothing to me, but 
don't do it. Portman, drive on." 

" Good lord ! " said Jones, as the vehicle passed 
on its way, bearing off its beautiful occupant, of 
whom nothing could now be seen but the lace-covered 
back of a parasol. 
He rejoined the unknown. 

:< Well," said the latter, " what has your wife been 
saying to you ? " 

" My wife ! " said Jones. 

' Well, your late wife, though you ain't divorced 
yet, are you ? " 
" No," said Jones. 

He uttered the word mechanically, scarcely knowing 
what he was saying. 

That lovely creature his wife Rochester's wife ! 
" Get in," said the unknown ; he had called a taxi. 
Jones got in. 

Rochester's wife ! The contrast between her and 
Lady Plinlimon suddenly arose before him, together 
with the folly of Rochester seen gigantically and in 
a new light. 

The taxi drew up in a street off Piccadilly ; they 
got out, the unknown paid, and led the way into 
a house whose front door presented a modest brass 
doorplate inscribed with the words " Mr. Carr." 

They passed along a passage, and then downstairs 
to a large room, where small card-tables were set 
out. An extraordinary room, for, occupying nearly 



THE GIRL IN THE VICTORIA 91 

half of one side of it stood a kitchen range, over which 
a cook was engaged broiling chops and kidneys and 
all the other elements of a mixed grill. Old-fashioned 
pictures of sporting celebrities hung on the walls, and 
opposite the range stood a dresser laden with priceless 
old-fashioned crockery ware. Off this room lay the 
dining-room, and the whole place had an atmosphere 
of comfort and the days gone by when days were 
less laborious than our days, and comfort less allied 
to glitter and tinsel. 

This was Carr's Club. 

The unknown sat down before the visitors' book, 
and began to write his own name and the name of 
his guest. 

Jones, looking over his shoulder, saw that his name 
was Spence Patrick Spence. Sir Patrick Spence, 
for one of the attendants addressed him as Sir Patrick. 
A mixed grill, some cheese, and draught beer in heavy 
pewter tankards constituted the meal, during which 
the loquacious Spence kept up the conversation. 

" I don't want to poke my nose into your affairs," 
said he, " but I can see there's something worrying 
you. You're not the same chap. Is it about the 
wife ? " 

" No," said Jones, " it's not that." 

" Well, I don't want to dig into your confidence, 
and I don't want to give you advice. If I did, I'd 
say make it up with her. You know very well, 
Rochy, you have led her the deuce of a dance. Your 
sister got me on about it the other night at the 
Vernons'. We had a long talk about you, Rochy, 
and we agreed you were the best of chaps, but too much 
given to gaiety and promiscuous larks. You should 
have heard me holding forth. But, joking apart, it's 
time you and I settled down, old chap. You can't 



92 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

put old heads on young shoulders, but our shoulders 
ain't so young as they used to be, Rochy. And I 
want to tell you this, if you don't hitch up again in 
harness the other party will do a bolt. I'm dead 
serious. It's not the thing to say to another man, 
but you and I haven't any secrets between us, and 
we've always been pretty plain one to the other. 
Well, this is what I want to say, and just take it as 
it's meant. Maniloff is after her ; you know that 
chap, the attache* at the Russian Embassy, chap like 
a billiard-marker, always at the other end of a cigarette 
other name's Boris. Hasn't a penny to bless him- 
self with, I know he hasn't, for I've made kind inquiries 
about him through Lewis. Reason why he wanted 
to buy one of my racers for export to Roosia. Seven 
hundred down and the balance in six months. Lewis 
served up his past to me on a charger. The chap's 
rotten with debt, divorced from his wife, and a punter 
at Monte Carlo. That's his real profession, and card 
playing. He's a sleepy Slav, and if he was told his 
house was on fire he'd say ' nich6vo ' meaning it 
don't matter, it's well insured. If he had a house to 
insure, which he hasn't. But women like him, he's 
that sort. But heaven help the woman that marries 
him. He'd take her money and herself off to Monte, 
and when he'd broken her heart and spoiled her life 
and spent her coin he'd leave her and go off and be 
Russian Attach^ in Japan or somewhere. I know 
him. Don't let her do it, Rochy." 

"But how am I to help it ? " asked the perplexed 
Jones, who saw the meaning of the other. 

It did not matter in reality to him whether a woman 
whom he had only seen once were to " bolt " with a 
Russian and find ruination at Monte Carlo ; but this 
world is not entirely a world of reality, and he felt a 



THE GIRL IN THE VICTORIA 93 

surprisingly strong resentment at the idea of the girl 
in the victoria " bolting " with a Russian. 

It will be remembered that in Collins' s office the 
lawyer's talk about his " wife " had almost decided 
him to throw down his cards and quit. This shadowy 
wife, first mentioned by the bird-woman, had, in 
fact, been the one vaguely felt insuperable obstacle 
in the way of his grand determination to make good 
where Rochester had failed, to fight Rochester's 
battles, to be the Earl of Rochester permanently, 
maybe, or, failing that, to retire and vanish back to 
the States with honourable pickings. 

The sight of the real thing had, however, altered 
the 'whole position. Romance had suddenly touched 
Victor Jones, the gorgeous but sordid veils through 
which he had been pushing had split to some mystic 
wand, and had become the foliage of fairyland. 

" I want to tell you you are an old ass ! " 

Those words were surely enough to shatter any 
dream, to turn to bathos any situation. In Jones's 
case they had acted as a most potent spell. He could 
still hear the voice, wrathful, but with a tinge of mirth 
in it, golden, individual, entrancing. 

" How are you to help it ? " said Spence. " Why, 
go and make up with her again ; kick old Niche vo. 
Women like chaps that kick other chaps ; they 
pretend they don't, but they do. Either do that, or 
take a gun and shoot her ; she'd be better shot than 
with that fellow." 

He lit a cigarette, and they passed into the card- 
room, where Spence, looking at his watch, declared 
that he must be off to keep an appointment. They 
said good-bye in the street, and Jones returned to 
Carl ton House Terrace. 

He had plenty to think about. 



94 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

The pile of letters waiting to be answered on the 
table in the smoking-room reminded him that he had 
forgotten a most pressing necessity a typist. He 
could sign letters all right, with a very good imitation 
of Rochester's signature, but a holograph letter in 
the same hand was beyond him. Then a bright idea 
came to him why not answer these letters with a 
sixpenny telegram, which he could hand in himself ? 

He found a sheaf of telegraph forms in the bureau, 
and sat down before the letters, dealing with them 
one by one, and as relevantly as he could. It was a 
rather interesting and amusing game, and when he 
had finished he felt fairly satisfied. " Awfully sorry 
can't come," was the reply to the dinner invitations. 
The letter signed " Childersley " worried him, till he 
looked up the name in " Who's Who," and found a 
lord answering to it at the same address as that on 
the note-paper. 

He had struck by accident on one of the alleviations 
of a major misery of civilized life replying to letters 
and he felt like patenting it. 

He left the house with the sheaf of telegrams, found 
the nearest post-office which is situated directly 
opposite to Charing Cross Station and returned. 
Then, lighting a cigar, he took the friendly and in- 
defatigable " Who's Who " upon his knee, and began 
to turn the pages indolently. It is a most interesting 
volume for an idle moment, full of scattered romance, 
tales of struggle and adventure compressed into a 
few lines, peeps of history, and the epitaphs of still 
living men. 

" I want to tell you you are an old ass ! " 

The words still sounding in his ears, made him turn 
again to the name Plinlimon. The contrast between 
Lady Plinlimon and the girl whose vision dominated 



THE GIRL IN THE VICTORIA 95 

his mind rose up again sharply at sight of the printed 
name. 

Ass ! That name did not apply to Rochester. To 
fit him with an appropriate pseudonym would be 
impossible. Fool, idiot, sumph Jones tried them 
all on the image of the defunct, but they were too 
small. 

" Plinlimon, 3rd Baron/' read Jones, " created 
1831. Albert James. B. March loth, 1862. O.S. of 
second Baron and Julia, d. of J. H. Thompson, of 
Clifton ; m. Sapphira, d. of Marcus Mulhausen. Educ. 
privately. Address, the Roost, Tite Street, Chelsea." 

Mulhausen ! He almost dropped the book. 
Mulhausen ! Collins, his office, and that terrible 
family party all rose up before him. Here was the 
scamp who had diddled Rochester out of the coal- 
mine, the father of the woman who had diddled him 
out of thousands. The paragraph in " Who's Who " 
turned from printed matter to a nest of wriggling 
vipers. He threw the book on the table, rose up, 
and began to pace the floor. 

The girl-wife in the victoria, his own position 
everything was forgotten before the monstrous fact 
half guessed, half seen. 

Rochester had been plucked right and left by these 
harpies. He had received five thousand pounds for 
land worth a million from the father, he had paid 
eight thousand, or a good part of eight thousand, to 
the daughter. Fine business that ! 

I compared Jones, when he was fighting Voles, to 
a terrier. He had a good deal of the terrier in his 
composition, the honesty, the rooting-out instinct, 
and the fury before vermin. Men run in animal 



96 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

groups, and if you study animals you will be surprised 
by nothing so much as the old race fury that breaks 
out in the most civilized animal before the old race 
quarry or enemy. 

For a few seconds, as he paced the floor, Jones 
was in the mental condition of a dog in proximity to 
a hutched badger. Then he began to think clearly. 
The obvious fact before him was that Voles, the 
Plinlimons, and Mulhausen were a gang ; the pre- 
sumptive fact was that the money paid in blackmail 
had gone back to Mulhausen, or, at least, a great part 
of it. 

Was Mulhausen the spider of the web ? Were all 
the rest his tools and implements ? 

Jones had a good deal of instinctive knowledge of 
women. He did not in his heart believe that a woman 
could be so utterly vile as to use love letters directed 
to her for the purpose of extracting money from the 
man who wrote them. Or, rather, that, whilst she 
might use them, it was improbable that she would 
invent the method. The whole business had the 
stamp of a mind masculine and utterly unscrupulous. 
Even at first he had glimpsed this vaguely, when he 
considered it probable that Lord Plinlimon had a 
hand in the affair. 

" Now," thought Jones, "if I could bring this 
home to Mulhausen, I could squeeze back that coal- 
mine from him. I could, sure." 

He sat down and lit another cigar to assist him in 
dealing with this problem. 

It was very easy to say " squeeze Mulhausen," it 
was a different thing to do it. He came to this con- 
clusion after a few minutes' earnest concentration of 
mind on that problematical person. Hitherto he had 
been dealing with small men and wasters. Voles was 



THE GIRL IN THE VICTORIA 97 

a plain scoundrel, quite easily overthrown by direct 
methods. But Marcus Mulhausen he guessed to be 
a big man. The first thing to be done was to verify 
this supposition. He rang the bell and sent for 
Church. 

" Come in," said he, when the latter appeared, 
" and shut the door. I want to ask you something." 

' Yes, my lord." 

" It's just this. I want you to tell me what you 
think of Lord Plinlimon, and what you have heard 
said about him ; I have my own opinions I want 
yours." 

" Well, my lord," began Church, " it's not for me 
to say anything against his lordship, but since you ask 
me, I will say that it's generally the opinion that his 
lordship is a bit soft." 

" Do you think he's straight ? " 

" Yes, my lord that is to say 

" Spit it out," said Jones. 

" Well, my lord, he owes money, that's well known ; 
and I've heard it said a good deal of money has been 
lost at cards in his house, but not through his fault. 
Indeed, you yourself said something to me to that 
effect, my lord." 

" Yes, so I did ; but what I want to get at is this. 
Do you think he's a man who would do a scoundrelly 
thing that's plain ? " 

" Oh, no, my lord, hfc's straight enough. It's the 
other party." 

" Meaning his wife ? " 

" No, my lord her brother, Mr. Julian." 

" Ah ! " 

Church warmed a bit. 

" He's always about there lives with them mostly. 
You see, my lord, he has no, what you may call,' 

7 



98 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

status of his own, but he manages to get known to 
people through her ladyship." 

" Kind of sucker/' said Jones. 

Mr. Church assented. The expression was new to 
him, but it seemed to apply. 

Then Jones dismissed him. 

The light was becoming clearer and clearer. Here 
was another member of the gang, another instrument 
of Marcus Mulhausen. 

" To-morrow," said Jones to himself, " I will go 
for these chaps. Voles is the key to the lot of them, 
and I have Voles completely under my thumb." 

Then he put the matter from his mind for a while, 
and fell to thinking of the girl his wife Rochester's 
wife. 

The strange thought came to him that she was a 
widow, and did not know it. 

He dined out that night, going to a little restaurant 
in Soho, and he returned to bed early, so as to be fresh 
for the business of the morrow. 

He had looked himself up again in " Who's Who/' 
and found that his wife's name was Teresa. Teresa 
the name pleased him vaguely, and now that he 
had captured it it stuck like a bur in his mind. If 
he could only make good over the Mulhausen proposi- 
tion, recapture that mine, prove himself would she, 
if he told her all would she 

He fell asleep murmuring the word Teresa. 



CHAPTER VIII 

TERESA 

HE woke up next morning to find the vision of 
Teresa, Countess of Rochester so he called 
her standing by his bedside. 

Have you ever for a moment considered the influence 
of women ? Go to a public meeting composed entirely 
of men, and see what a heavy affair it can be 
especially if you are a speaker ; sprinkle a few women 
through the audience, and behold the livening effect. 
At a party or a public meeting in the wheat pit or the 
battle-field, women, or the recollection of a woman, 
form or forms one of the greatest liveners to con- 
versation, speech, or action. Most men fight the 
battle of life for a woman. Jones, as he sat up and 
drank his morning tea, gazing the while at the vision 
of Teresa, Countess of Rochester, had found, almost 
unknown to himself, a new incentive to action. 

The position yesterday had begun to sag ; very little 
would have made him " quit," take a hundred pounds 
from the eight thousand, and a passage by the next boat 
to the States, but that girl in the victoria, those eyes, 
that voice, those words they had altered everything. 

Was he in love ? Perhaps not, but he was fas- 
cinated, held, dazzled. 

More than that, the world seemed strange brighter ; 
he felt younger, filled with an energy of a new brand. 
He whistled as he crossed the floor to look out of the 
window, and as he tubbed he splashed the water 
about like a boy. 

99 7* 



100 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

It was easy to see that the unfortunate man had 
tumbled into a position more fantastic and infinitely 
more dangerous than any position he had hitherto 
occupied since setting foot in the house of Rochester. 

That vanished and fantastic humorist would have 
found plenty to feed his thoughts could he have 
returned. 

The cheque-book from the National Provincial 
Bank arrived by the first post, and after breakfast 
he put it aside in a drawer of the bureau in the 
smoking-room. He glanced through the usual sheaf 
of letters from unknown people, tradesmen whose 
accounts were marked " account rendered," and gentle- 
men who signed themselves with the names of towns 
and counties. One of the latter seemed indignant. 

I take this d d bad of you, Rochester," said 

he. " I've found it out at last ; you are the man 
responsible for that telegram. I lost three days and 
a night's sleep rushing up to Cumberland on a wild- 
goose chase, and I'm telling people all about it. 
Some day you'll land yourself in a mess. Jokes that 
may be funny amongst Board school boys are out of 
place amongst men. LANGWATHBY." 

Jones determined to send Langwathby a telegram 
of apology when he had time to look his name up in 
' Who's Who," then he put the letters aside, called 
for his hat and cane, and left the house. 

He was going to Voles first. 

Voles was his big artillery. He guessed that the 
fight with Marcus Mulhausen would be a battle to 
the death. He reckoned a lot on Voles. In Tra- 
falgar Square he called a taxi, and told the driver to 
take him to Jermyn Street. 



PART III 
CHAPTER I 

THE ATTACK 

AS. VOLES, money-lender and bill discounter, 
lived over his business. That is to say his 
office was his dining-room. He owned the house 
in Jermyn Street. Jones, dismissing the taxi, rang 
the bell, and was admitted by a manservant, who, not 
sure whether Mr. Voles was in or not, invited the 
visitor into a small room on the right of the entrance- 
hall, and closed the door on him. 

The room contained a desk-table, three chairs, a 
big-scale map of London, a Phoenix Insurance almanac, 
and a photogravure reproduction of Monna Lisa. The 
floor was covered with linoleum, and the window gave 
upon a blank wall. 

This was the room where creditors and stray visitors 
had to wait. Jones took a chair and looked about him. 

Humanity may be divided into three classes those 
who, having seen, adore, those who tolerate, and those 
who detest Monna Lisa. Jones detested her. That 
leery, sleery, slippery, poisonous face was hateful to 
him as the mask of a serpent. 

He was looking at the lady when the door opened, 
and in came Voles. 

101 



102 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Voles looked yellower and older this morning, but 
his face showed nothing of. resentment. The turning 
of the Earl of Rochester upon him had been the one 
great surprise of his life. He had always fancied that 
he knew character, and his fancy was not ill-founded. 
His confidence in himself had been shaken. 

" Good morning, "said Jones. " I have come to 
have a little talk with you." 

" Sit down," said Voles. 

They seated themselves, Voles before the desk. 

" I haven't come to fight," said Jones, "just to talk. 
You know that Marcus Mulhausen has got that Welsh 
land from me for five thousand, and that it is worth 
maybe a million now." 

Voles nodded. 

" Well, Mulhausen has to give that property back." 

Voles laughed. 

' You needn't laugh. You have seen my rough 
side. I'm holding the smooth towards you now but 
there is no occasion to laugh. I'm going to skin 
Mulhausen." 

" Well," said Voles, " what have I to do with that ? " 

" You are the knife." 

" Oh ! " 

" Yes, indeed. Let's talk. When you got that 
eight thousand from me, you were only the agent of 
the Plinlimon woman, and she was only the agent 
of Marcus. She got something, you got something, 
but Marcus got the most ; Julian got something too, 
but it was Marcus got the joints. He gave you three 
the head, and the hoofs, and the innards, and the tail. 
I've had it out with the Plinlimon woman, and I 
know. You were a gang." 

Voles heaved up in his chair. 

" What more have you to say ? " asked he, thickly. 



THE ATTACK 103 

"A lot. There is nothing more difficult to get at 
than a gang, because they cover each other's traces. 
I pay you a certain sum in cash, you deduct your 
commission, and hand the remainder over to the Plin- 
limon woman ; she pays her father and gets a few 
hundred to pay her milliner. Who's to prove any- 
thing ? No cheques have passed." 
" Just so," said Voles. 

" I'm glad you see my point," replied Jones. " Now, 
if you can't untie a knot you can always cut it if you 
have a knife can't you ? " 
Voles shrugged his shoulders. 

" Well, I said you were a knife, didn't I ? And I'm 
going to cut this knot with you. See my point ? " 
" Not in the least." 

" I'm sorry, because you make me speak plain, 
and that's unpleasant. This is my meaning. I 
have to get that property back, or else I will go to the 
police and rope in the whole gang. Tell the whole 
story. I will accuse Marcus. Do you understand that 
Marcus and Marcus's daughter, and Marcus's son, 
and you ? And I won't do that to-morrow, I'll do it 
to-day. To-night the whole caboodle of you will be 
in gaol ! " 

' You said you hadn't come to fight," cried Voles. 
" What do you want ? Haven't you had enough 
from me, yet you drive me like this ? It's dangerous." 
" I have not come to fight. At least, not you. On 
the contrary, when I get this property back, if it turns 
out worth a million, I'll maybe pay you your losses. 
You've been paying the piper for Marcus, it seems 
to me." 

" I have," groaned Voles. 

The two words proved to Jones that he was right 
all through. 



104 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Well, it's Marcus I'm up against, and you have 
to help me." 

Then Voles began to speak. The something Oriental 
in his nature, the something that had driven him 
rushing with outspread arms at the constable that 
evening began now to talk. 

Help against Marcus ! What could he do against 
Marcus ? Why, Marcus Mulhausen held him in the 
hollow of his hand Marcus held everyone. His 
daughter, her husband, his own son, Julian, to say 
nothing of A. S. Voles and others. 

Jones listened with patient attention to all this, 
and when the other had finished and wiped the palms 
of his hands on his handkerchief, said : 

" But all the same, Marcus is held by the fact that 
he forms one of a gang." 

Voles made a movement with his hand. 

" Don't interrupt me. The head of a shark is the 
cleverest part of it, but it has to suffer with the body 
when the whole shark is caught. That's the fix 
Marcus is in. When I close on the lot of you, Marcus 
will be the first to go into the jug. Now, see here, 
you have got to take my orders ; they won't be 
hard." 

" What are they ? " 

" You have got to write me a note, which I will 
take to Marcus, telling him the game's up, the gang's 
burst, and to deliver." 

" Why, d n it, what ails you ? " said Voles. 

" What ails me ? " 

' You aren't talking like yourself you have never 
been like yourself since you've taken this line." 

Jones felt himself changing colour. In his excite- 
ment he had let his voice run away with him. 

" It doesn't matter a button whether I'm like my- 



THE ATTACK 105 

self or not," said he ; " you've got to write that note, 
and do it now while I dictate." 

Voles drummed on the desk with his fingers, then he 
took a sheet of paper and an envelope from a drawer. 

" Well/' said he, " what's it to be ? " 

" Nothing alarming," said the other. " Just three 
words : ' It's all up.' How do you address him ? " 

Without reply Voles wrote. 

" Dear M. It's all up." 

" That'll do," said Jones. " Now sign your name 
and address the envelope." 

Voles did so. 

Jones put the letter in his pocket. 

" Well," said he, " that ends the business. I hope 
with this, and what I have to say to him, Marcus will 
part, and, as I say, if things turn out as I hope, maybe 
I'll right your losses ; I have no quarrel with you 
only Marcus." 

Suddenly Voles spoke. 

" For Heaven's sake," said he, " mind how you 
deal with that chap ; he's never been got the better of, 
curse him ; go cautiously ! " 

" You never fear," said Jones. 



CHAPTER II 

THE ATTACK CONTINUED 

JONES had already obtained Marcus Mulhausen's 
address from the invaluable " Kelly." 
Mulhausen was a financier. A financier is a man 
who makes money without a trade or profession, and 
Mulhausen had made a great deal of money, despite 
this limitation, during his twenty years of business life, 
which had started humbly enough behind the counter 
of a pawnbroker's in the Minories. 

His offices were situated in Chancery Lane. They 
consisted of three rooms, an outer waiting-room, a 
room inhabited by three clerks that is to say, a senior 
clerk, Mr. Aaronson, and two subordinates and an 
inner room where Mulhausen dwelt. 

Jones, on giving his name, was shown at once into 
the inner room, where Mulhausen was seated at his 
desk. 

Mulhausen was a man of sixty or so, small, fragile- 
looking, with grey side-whiskers and drowsy, heavy- 
lidded eyes. 

He nodded to Jones, and indicated a chair. Then 
he finished his work, the reading of a letter, placed it 
under an agate paper-weight, and turned to the new- 
comer. 

" What can I do for you this morning ? " asked 
Mulhausen. 

106 



THE ATTACK CONTINUED 107 

' You can just read this letter," said Jones. 

He handed over Voles' letter. 

Mulhausen put on his glasses, opened the letter, and 
read it. Then he placed the open letter on top of the 
one beneath the agate paper-weight, tore up the 
envelope, and threw the two fragments into the 
waste-paper basket beside him. 

" Anything more ? " asked he. 

' Yes," replied the other, "a lot more. Let us 
begin at the beginning. You have obtained from me 
a piece of real estate worth anything up to a million 
pounds. You paid five thousand for it." 

" Yes ! " 

' You have got to hand me that property back." 

" I beg your pardon," said Mulhausen. " Do you 
refer to the Glanafwyn lands ? " 

" Yes." 

" I see. And I have to hand those back to you 
anything more ? " 

" No, that's all. I received your daughter's letters 
back from Voles yesterday. Let's be plain with one 
another. Voles has confessed everything. I have his 
confession, under his own handwriting ; you are all 
in a net, the whole gang of you you, your daughter, 
your son and Voles. You plucked me like a turkey. 
You know the whole affair as well as I do, and if I do 
not receive that property back before five o'clock to- 
day, I shall go to the nearest police office and swear 
an information against you." 

" I see," said Mulhausen, without turning a hair, 
" you will put us all in prison, will you not ? That 
would be very unpleasant. Very unpleasant indeed." 

He rose, went to some tin boxes situated on a 
ledge behind him, took out his keys and opened 
one. 



108 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Jones, fancying that he was going to produce the 
title-deeds, felt a little jump at his thyroid cartilage. 
This was victory without a battle. But Mr. Marcus 
Mulhausen took no title-deeds from the box. He pro- 
duced a letter-case, came back with it to the table, 
and sat down. 

Then, holding the letter-case before him, he looked 
at Jones over his glasses. 

' You rogue/' said Mulhausen. 

That was the most terrific moment in Jones's life. 
Mulhausen from a criminal had suddenly become a 
judge. He spoke with such absolute conviction, ease, 
sense of power, and scorn that there could be no 
manner of doubt he held the winning cards. He 
opened the letter-case and produced a paper. 

" Here is the bill of exchange for two hundred and 
fifty pounds to which you forged Sir Pleydell Tuffnell's 
name," said Marcus Mulhausen, spreading the paper 
before him. " That was two years ago. We all know 
Sir Pleydell and his easy-going ways. He is so care- 
less you thought he would never find out, so good he 
would never prosecute. But it came into my hands, 
it is my property, and I have no hesitation in dealing 
with rogues. Now, do you suppose for a moment 
that if I were moving against you in any unlawful way 
which I deny I would have done so without a 
protector. Could you find a better protection than 
this ? The punishment for forgery, let me remind 
you, is five years' penal servitude at the least." 

He looked down at the document with a cold smile, 
and then he glanced up again at his victim. Jones 
saw that he was done, done not by Marcus Mulhausen, 
but by Rochester. He had tripped over a kink in 
Rochester's character, just as a man trips over a kink 
in a carpet. Then rage came to him. The sight of 



THE ATTACK CONTINUED 109 

the horrible scoundrel with whiskers, triumphant and 
gloating, roused the dog in his nature, and all the craft 
that lay hidden in him. 

He heaved a sigh, rose brokenly, and approached 
the desk and the creature behind it. 

' You are a cleverer man than I am," said he, 
" shake hands and call it quits." 

Next moment he had snatched the paper from the 
fingers that held it, crumpled it, crammed it into his 
mouth. He rushed to the door and locked it, whilst 
Mulhausen, screaming like a woman, reached him and 
clutched him by the shoulders. 

Then, swiftly turning, Jones gripped the financier 
by both arms, and held him so, chewing, chewing, 
chewing, mute and facing the shouting other one. 

They were hammering at the door outside. Mr. 
Aaronson and the clerks, useless people for breaking- 
down-door purposes, were assisting their employer with 
their voices mainly, the whole block of offices was 
raised, and boys and telephones were summoning the 
police. 

Meanwhile, Jones was chewing, and the bill was 
slowly being converted into what the physiologist 
terms a bolus. It took three minutes before the 
bolus, properly salivated and raised by the tongue, 
passed the anterior pillars of the fauces, then the 
epiglottis shut down, and the bolus slipping over it, 
and seized by the muscles of the oesophagus, passed 
to its destined abode. 

Jones had swallowed Rochester's past, or, at least, 
a most important part of it. The act accomplished, 
he sat down as a boa-constrictor recoils itself, still 
gulping. Marcus Mulhausen rushed to the door and 
opened it. A vast policeman stood before him, 
behind the policeman crowded Mr. Aaronson and the 



110 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

clerks, and behind these a dozen or two of the block 
dwellers, eager for gory sights at a distance. 

Marcus looked round. 

" What's all this ? " said he, " there is nothing wrong, 
just a little dispute with a gentleman. It is all over. 
Mr. Aaronson, clear the office. Constable, here is two 
shillings for your trouble. Good day." 

He shut the door on the disappointed crowd, and 
turned to Jones. 

The battle was over. 



CHAPTER III 

A WILD SURPRISE 

AT five o'clock that day the transference of the 
property was made out and signed by Marcus 
Mulhausen in Mortimer Collins's office, and the Glana- 
fwyn lands became again the property of the Earl of 
Rochester " for the sum of five thousand pounds 
received and herewith acknowledged," said the docu- 
ment. 

Needless to say, no five thousand pounds passed 
hands. Collins, mystified, asked no questions in the 
presence of Mulhausen. When the latter had taken 
his departure, however, he turned to Jones. 

" Did you pay him five thousand ? " asked the 
lawyer. 

" Not a cent," replied the other. 

" Well, how have you worked the miracle, then ? " 

Jones told. 

' You see how I had them coopered," finished he. 
" Well, just as I was going to grab the kitty he played 
the ace of spades, produced an old document he held 
against me." 

" Yes ? " 

" I pondered for a moment then I came to a swift 
conclusion, took the doc. from him and ate it." 

1 You ate the document ? " 
in 



112 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Sure." 

Jones rubbed his stomach and laughed. 

" Well, well," said the solicitor, with curious acquies- 
cence and want of astonishment after the first momen- 
tary start caused by this surprising statement, " we 
have the property back, that's the main thing." 

' You remember," said Jones, " I talked to you 
about letting that place ? " 

" Carlton House Terrace ? " 

" Yes ; well, that's off. I've made good. Do you 
see ? " 

' 'M yes," replied Collins. 

" I'll have enough money now to pay off the mort- 
gages and things." 

" Undoubtedly," said Collins. " But, now, don't 
you think it would be a good thing if you were to tie 
this property up, so that mischance can't touch it. 
You have no children, it is true, but one never knows. 
Honestly, I think you would be well advised if you were 
to take precautions." 

" Don't worry," said Jones brightly. " I'll give 
the whole lot to my wife when I can come to terms 
with her." 

" That's good hearing," replied the other. 

Then Jones took his departure, leaving the precious 
documents in the hands of the lawyer. 

He was elated. He had proved the fact which he 
had only guessed by instinct up to this, that a rogue 
is the weakest person in the world before a plain dealer, 
if the plain dealer has a weapon in his hand. The 
almost instantaneous collapse of Voles and Mulhausen 
was due to the fact that they stood on rotten founda- 
tions. He told himself now, as he walked along home- 
ward, that he need not have eaten that document. 
Mulhausen would never have used it. If he had just 



A WILD SURPRISE 113 

gone out and called in a policeman, Mulhausen, seeing 
him in earnest, would have collapsed. 

However, the thing was eaten and done with, and 
there was no use in troubling any more on the matter. 
He had other things to think of. He had made good. 
He had saved the Rochester name and estates, he had 
recaptured one million eight thousand pounds, reckon- 
ing that the coal-bearing lands were worth a million, 
and, more than that, he was a sane man, able to look 
after what he had recaptured. 

The Rochester family, if they knew, would have no 
cause to grumble at the interloper and the substitution 
of new brains and push in the place of decadence, 
craziness, and sloth. The day when he had changed 
places with Rochester was the best day that had ever 
dawned for them. 

He was thinking this when, all of a sudden, that 
horrible, unreal feeling he had suffered from once before 
came upon him again. This time it was not a question 
of losing his identity, it was a shuffle of his over-taxed 
brain between two identities : Rochester Jones 
Jones Rochester. It seemed to him, for the space 
of a couple of seconds, that he could not tell which of 
those two individuals he was ; then the feeling passed, 
and he resumed his way, reaching Carlton House 
Terrace shortly after six. 

He gave his hat and cane and gloves to the flunkey 
who opened the door for him he had obtained a 
latchkey from Church that morning, but forgot to use 
it and was crossing the hall, when a strain of music 
brought him to a halt. The tones of a piano came from 
a door on the right. Someone was playing Chami- 
nade's " Valse Tendre," and playing it to perfection. 

Jones turned to the manservant. 

" Who is that ? " he asked. 



114 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF ( 

"It is her ladyship, my lord ; she arrived half an 
hour ago. Her luggage has gone upstairs." 

Her ladyship ! 

Jones, thrown off his balance^ hesitated for a moment. 
What ladyship could it be ? Not, surely, that awful 
mother ! 

He crossed to the door, opened it, found a music- 
room, and there, seated at a piano, the girl of the 
victoria. 

She was in out-door dress, and had not removed her 
hat. 

She looked over her shoulder at him as he came in ; 
her face wore a half-smile, but she did not stop playing. 
Anything more fascinating, more lovely, more dis- 
tracting than that picture it would be hard to imagine. 

As he crossed the room she suddenly ceased playing, 
and twirled round on the music-stool. 

" I've come back," said she. " Ju-ju, I couldn't 
stand it. You are bad,, but you are a lot, lot better 
than your mother and Venetia. I'm going to try 
and put up with you a bit longer. Ju-ju, what makes 
you look so stiff and funny ? " 

" I don't know," said Jones, passing his hand across 
his forehead. " I've had a hard day." 

She looked at him curiously for a moment, then 
pityingly, then kindly. 

Then she jumped up, and made him sit down on a 
big couch by the wall, and took her seat beside him. 

Then she took his hand. 

" Ju-ju, why will you be such a fool ? " 

" I don't know," said Jones. 

The caress of the little jewelled hand destroyed his 
mental powers. He dared not look at her, just sat 
staring before him. | * 

" They told me all about the coal-mine," she went 



A WILD SURPRISE 115 

on, " at least, Venetia did, and how they all bully- 
ragged you Venetia was great on that. Venetia 
waggled that awful gobbly-jick head of hers while she 
was telling me. They're mad over the loss of that coal 
thing. Oh, Ju-ju, I'm so glad you lost it. It's 
wicked, I suppose, but I'm glad. That's what made 
me come back, the way they went on about you. 
I listened and listened, and then I broke out. I said 
all I've wanted to say for the last six months to 
Venetia. You know she told me how you came home 
the other night. I said nothing then, just listened and 
stored it up. Then, last night, when they all got 
together about the coal-mine, I went on listening and 
storing it up. Blunders was there as well as your 
mother and Venetia. Blunders said he had called you 
an ass, and that you were. Then I broke out. I said 
a whole lot of things well, there it is. So I came back 
there were other reasons as well. I don't want to 
be alone. I want to be cared for I want to be cared 
for. When I saw you in Bond Street yesterday, I 
I I J U 'J U > do you care for me ? " 

' Yes," said Jones. 

" I want to confess I want to tell you something." 

" Yes." 

" If you didn't care for me if I felt you didn't, 
I'd- 

" Yes." 

" Kick over the traces, I would. I couldn't go on 
as I have been going, lonely, like a lost dog." 

She raised his fingers and rubbed them along her lips. 

" You will not be lonely," said the unfortunate 
man in a muted voice. " You need not be afraid of 
that." 

The utter inadequacy of the remark came to him 
like one of those nightmare recognitions encountered 

8* 



116 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

as a rule only in dreamland. Yet she seemed to find 
it sufficient, her mind, perhaps, being engaged 
elsewhere. 

" What would you have said if I had run away 
from you for good ? " asked she. " Would you have 
been sorry ? " 

" Yes, dreadfully." 

" Are you glad I've come back ? " 

" I am." 

" Honestly glad ? " 

" Yes." 

" Really glad ? " 

" Yes." 

" Truthfully, really, honestly glad ? " 

" Yes." 

" Well, so am I," said she. She released his hand. 

" Now go and play me something. I want some- 
thing soothing after Venetia play me Chopin's 
' Spianato ' we used to be fond of that." 

Now, the only thing that Jones had ever played in 
his life was the " Star-Spangled Banner," and that 
with one finger Chopin's " Spianato ! " 

" No," he said. " I'd rather talk." 

" Well, talk, then ! Mercy, there's the first gong ! " 

A faint and far-away sound invaded the room, 
throbbed and ceased. She rose, picked up her gloves, 
which she had cast on a chair, and then peeped at 
herself in a mirror by the piano. 

" You have never kissed me," said she, speaking 
as it were half to herself and half to him, seeming to 
be more engaged in a momentary piercing criticism of 
the hat she was wearing than in thoughts of kisses. 

He came towards her like a schoolboy ; then, as 
she held up her face, he imprinted a chaste kiss upon 
her right cheek-bone. 



A WILD SURPRISE 117 

Then the most delightful thing that ever happened 
to mortal man happened to him. Two warm palms 
suddenly took his face between them, and two moist 
lips met his own. 

Then she was gone. 

He took his seat on the music-stool, dazed, dazzled, 
delighted, shocked, frightened, triumphant ! 

The position was terrific. 

Jones was no Lothario. He was a straight, plain, 
common-sensical man with a high respect for women, 
and the position of leading character in a bad French 
comedy was not for him. Jones would just as soon 
have thought of kissing another man's wife as of 
standing on his head in the middle of Broadway. 

To personate another man, and to kiss the other 
man's wife under that disguise, would have seemed 
to him the meanest act any two-legged creature could 
perform. 

And he had just done it. And the other man's 
wife had hem ! His face still burned. 

She had done it because of his deception. 

He found himself suddenly face to face with the 
barrier that Fate had been cunningly constructing 
and had now placed straight before him. 

There was no getting over it or under it ; he would 
have to declare his position at once and what a position 
to declare ! 

She loved Rochester ! 

All at once that terrific fact appeared before him in 
its true proportions and its true meaning. 

She loved Rochester. 

He had to tell her the truth. Yet to tell her the 
truth he would have to tell her that the man she 
loved was dead. 

Then she would want proofs. 



118 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

He would have to bring up the Savoy Hotel people, 
fetch folk from America disinter Rochester. Horror ! 
He had never thought of that. What had become of 
Rochester ? Up to this he had never thought once 
of what had become of the mortal remains of the 
defunct jester, nor had he cared a button why should 
he? 

But the woman who loved Rochester would care. 
And he, Jones, would become in her eyes a ghoul, a 
monstrosity, a horror. 

He felt a tinge of that feeling towards himself now. 
Up to this, Rochester had been for him a mechanical 
figure, an abstraction, but the fact of this woman's 
love had suddenly converted the abstraction into a 
human being. 

He could not possibly tell her that he had left the 
remains of this human being, this man she loved, in 
the hands of unknown strangers callously, as though 
it were the remains of an animal. 

He could tell her nothing. 

The game was up, he would have to quit. Either 
that, or to continue the masquerade, which was im- 
possible, or tell her all, which was equally impossible. 

Yet to quit would be to hit her cruelly. She loved 
Rochester ! 

Rochester, despite all his wickedness, frivolity, 
shiftlessness, and general unworthiness or perhaps 
because of these things had been able to make this 
woman love him, take his part against his family, and 
return to him. 

To go away and leave her now would be the cruellest 
act. Cruel to her and just as cruel to himself, fas- 
cinated and held by her as he was. Yet there was 
no other course open to him. So he told himself so 
he tried to tell himself, knowing full well that the only 



A WILD SURPRISE 119 

course open to him, as a man of honour, was a full 
confession of the facts of the case. 

To sneak away would be the act of a coward, to 
impose himself on her as Rochester the act of a villain, 
to tell her the truth the act of a man. 

The result would be terrific, yet only by facing 
that result could he come clear out of this business. 
For half an hour he sat, scarcely moving. He was 
up against that most insuperable obstacle, his own 
character. Had he been a crook, everything would 
have been easy ; being a fairly straight man every- 
thing was impossible. 

He had got to this bed-rock fact when the door 
opened, and a servant made his appearance. 

" Dinner is served, my lord." 

Dinner ! 

He rose up and came into the hall. Standing 
there for a moment, undecided, he heard a laugh, and 
looked up. She was standing, in evening-dress, looking 
over the balustrade of the first landing. 

" Why, you are not dressed ! " she said. 

" I I forgot," he answered. 

Something fell at his feet it was a rose. She had 
cast it to him, and now she was coming down the 
stairway towards him, where he stood, the rose in his 
hand and distraction at his heart. 

" It is perfectly disgraceful of you," said she, looking 
him up and down and taking the rose from him, 
" and there is no time to dress now ; you usen't to 
be as careless as that." She put the rose in his coat. 
" I suppose it's from living alone for a fortnight with 
Venetia what would a month have done ! " 

She pressed the rose flat with her little palm. 

Then she slipped her fingers through the crook of 
his elbow and led him to the breakfast-room door. 



120 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

$ 

She entered and he followed her. 

The breakfast-table had been reduced in size, and 
they dined facing one another across a bowl of blush 
roses. 

fThat dinner was not a conversational success on 
the part of Jones, a fact which she scarcely perceived, 
being in high spirits and full of information she was 
eager to impart. 

It did not seem to matter to her in the least whether 
the flunkeys in waiting were listening or not ; she 
talked of the family, of " your mater," and 
" Blunders " and "V.," and other people, touching, it 
seemed, on the most intimate matters, and all with 
lightness of tone and spirit that would have been 
delightful, no doubt, had he known the discussed ones 
more intimately, and had his mind been open to 
receive pleasurable impressions. 

He would have to tell her directly after dinner the 
whole of his terrible story. It was as though Fate 
were saying to him, " You will have to kill her directly 
after dinner." 

All that light-hearted chatter and new-found con- 
tentment, all that brightness would die. Grief for 
the man she loved, hatred of the man who had sup- 
planted him, anguish, perplexity, terror would take 
their places. 

When the terrible meal was over, she ordered coffee 
to be served in the music-room. He lingered behind 
for a moment, fiddling with a cigarette. Then, when 
he came into the hall, with the sweat standing in 
beads upon his forehead, he heard the notes of the 
piano. 

It was a mazurka of Chopin's, played with gaiety 
and brilliancy, yet no funeral march ever sounded 
more fatefully in the ears of mortal. 



A WILD SURPRISE 121 

He could not do it. 

He could not possibly do it. No more than he 
could take one of those battle-axes wielded by defunct 
Rochesters, and, with it in his hand, go into the music- 
room and cut her down as she sat playing. 

It was impossible. 

He crossed to the music-room and opened the door. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE SECOND HONEYMOON 

ONLY three of the electric lights were on in the 
music-room. In the rosy light and half 
shadows, the room looked larger than when seen in 
daylight and different. 

She had wandered from the mazurka into 
Paderewski's M^lodie Op. 8, No. 3, a lonesome sort 
of tune it seemed to him, as he dropped into a chair, 
crossed his legs and listened. 

Then, as he listened he began to think. Up to this 
his thoughts had been in confusion, chasing one 
another or pursued by the monstrosity of the situation. 
Now he was thinking clearly. 

She was his, that girl sitting there at the piano with 
the light upon her hair, the light upon her bare 
shoulders and the sheeny fabric of her dress. He 
had only to stretch out his hand and take her. 
Absolutely his, arid he had only met her twice. She 
was the most beautiful woman in London, she had a 
mind that would have made a plain woman attractive, 
and a manner delightful, full of surprises and con- 
trarieties and tendernesses and she loved him. 

The " Arabian Nights " contained nothing like 
this, nor had the brain that conceived Tantalus risen 
to the heights achieved by accident and coincidence. 

122 



THE SECOND HONEYMOON 123 

She finished the piece, rose, turned over some sheets 
of music, and then came across the room floated 
across the room, and took her perch on the arm of 
the great chair in which he was sitting. Then he 
felt her fingers on his hair. 

" I want to feel your bumps to see if you have 
improved Ju-ju ; your head isn't so flat as it used 
to be on top. It seems a different shape, somehow, 
nicer. Blunders is as flat as a pancake on top of 
his head. Flatness runs in families, I suppose. Look 
at Venetia's feet ! Ju-ju, have you ever seen her 
in felt bath slippers ? " 

" No." 

" I have and a long yellow dressing-gown, and 
her hair on her shoulders all wet, in rat tails. I'm 
not a cat, but she makes me feel like one, and talk 
like one. I want to forget her. Do you remember 
our honeymoon ? " 

" Yes." 

She had taken his hand and was holding it. 

" We were happy then. Let's begin again, and 
let this be our second honeymoon, and we won't 
quarrel once will we ? " 

" No, we won't," said Jones. 

She slipped down into the chair beside him, pulled 
his arm around her and held up her lips. 

" Now, you're kissing me really," she murmured ; 
" you seemed half frightened before Ju-ju, I want 
to make a confession." 

" Yes ? " 

' Well somebody pretended to care for me very 
much a little while ago." 

" Who was that ? " 

" Never mind. I went the night before last to a 
dance at the Crawleys', and he was there." 



124 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Yes." 

' Yes is that all you have to say ? You don't 
seem to be very much interested." 

" I am, though." 

" I don't want you to be too much interested, and 
go making scenes and all that though you couldn't, 
for you don't know his name. Suffice to tell you 
as the books say he is a very handsome man, much, 
much handsomer than you, Ju. Well, listen to me. 
He asked me to run off with him." 

" Run off with him ? " 

' Yes to Spain. We were to go to Paris first, and 
then to Spain Spain, at this time of year ! " 

" What did you say ? " 

" I said : ' Please don't be stupid.' I'd been 
reading a novel where a girl said that to a man who 
wanted to run off with her she died at the end 
but that's what she said at first. Fortunate I 
remembered it." 

" Why ? " 

" Because because for a moment I felt inclined 
to say ' yes.' I know it was dreadful, but think of 
my position, you going on like that, and me all alone 
with no one to care for me. It's like a crave for 
drink. I must have someone to care for me, and I 
thought you didn't so I nearly said ' yes.' Once I 
had said what I did, I felt stronger." 

" What did he say ? " 

" He pleaded passionately like the man in the 
book, and talked of roses and blue seas he's not 
English I sat thinking of Venetia in her felt bath- 
room slippers and yellow wrapper. You know she 
reads St. Thomas a Kempis and opens bazaars. 
She opened one the other day, and came back with 
her nose quite red and in a horrid temper I wonder 



THE SECOND HONEYMOON 125 

what was inside that bazaar ? Well, I knew if I did 
anything foolish Venetia would exult, and that held 
me firm. She's not wicked. I believe she is really 
good, as far as she knows how, and that's the terrible 
thing about her. She goes to church twice on Sunday, 
she takes puddings and things to old women in the 
country, she opens bazaars and subscribes to ragged 
schools yet, with one word, she sets everyone by the 
ears. Well, when I got home from the dance, I 
began to think, and to-day, when they were all out, 
I had my boxes packed, and came right back here. 
I'd have given anything to see their faces when they 
got home and found me gone." 

She sprang up suddenly. A knock had come to 
the door ; it opened and a servant announced Lady 
Venetia Birdbrook. 

Venetia had not changed that evening, she was 
still in her big hat. She ignored Jones, and, standing, 
spoke tersely to Teresa. 

" So you have left us ? " 

' Yes," replied the other. " I have come back 
here, d'you mind ? " 

" I ? " said Venetia. " It's not a question of my 
minding in the least, only it was sudden, and as you 
left no word as to where you were going, we thought 
it best to make sure you were all right." 

She took her seat uncomfortably on a chair, and the 
Countess of Rochester perched herself again by Jones. 

1 Yes, I am all right," said she, with her hand 
resting on his shoulder. 

Venetia gulped. 

" I am glad to know it," she said. " We tried to 
make you comfortable. I cannot deny that mother 
feels slightly hurt at having no word from you before 
leaving, and one must admit that it cannot but seem 



126 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

strange to the servants your going like that but, of 
course, that is entirely a question of taste." 

' You mean," said Teresa, " that it was bad taste 
on my part well, I apologize. I am sorry, but the 
sudden craving to get back here was more than I 
could resist. I would have written to-night." 

" Oh, it does not matter," said Venetia, " the thing 
is done. Well, I must be going but have you both 
thought over the future and all that it implies ? " 

" Have we, Ju-ju ? " asked the girl, caressingly 
stroking Jones's head. 

' Yes," said Jones. 

" I'm sure," went on Venetia with a sigh, " I have 
always done my best to keep things together. I 
failed. Was it my fault ? " 

" No," said Teresa, aching for her to be gone. " I 
am sure it was not." 

" I am glad to hear you say that. I always tried 
to avoid interfering in your life. I never did or 
only when ordinary prudence made me speak, as, for 
instance, in that baccarat business." 

" Don't rake up old things," said Teresa suddenly. 

" And the Williamson affair," got in Venetia. " Oh, 
I am the very last to rake up things, as you call it. I, 
for one, will say no more of things that have happened, 
but I must speak on things that affect myself." 

" What is affecting you ? " 

' Just this. You know quite well the financial 
position. You know what the upkeep of this house 
means, you can't do it. You plainly can't do it. 
Your income is not sufficient." 

" But how does that affect you ? " 

: ' When tradespeople talk it affects me, it affects us 
all. Why not let this house and live quietly, some- 
where in the country, till things blow over ? " 



THE SECOND HONEYMOON 127 

" What do you mean by ' things blowing over ? ' 
asked Teresa. " One would think that you were 
talking of some disgrace that had happened." 

Venetia pulled up her long left-hand glove and 
moved as though about to depart. She said nothing, 
but looked at her glove. 

During the whole of this time she had neither looked 
at nor spoken to Jones, nor included him by word in 
the conversation. Her influence had been working 
upon him ever since she entered the room. He began 
now more fully to understand the part she had played 
in the life of Rochester. He felt that he wanted to talk 
to Venetia as Rochester had, probably, never talked. 

" A man once said to me that the greatest mistake 
a fellow can make is to have a sister to live with him 
after his marriage," said Jones. 

Venetia pulled up her right-hand glove. 

" A sister that has had to face mad intoxication, 
and worse, can endorse that opinion," said she. 

" What do you mean by ' worse ? ' " fired Teresa. 

" I mean exactly what I say," replied Venetia. 

" That is no answer. Do you mean that Arthur 
has been unfaithful to me ? " 

" I did not say that." 

" Well, what can be worse than intoxication that 
is the only thing worse that I know of unless murder. 
Do you mean that he has murdered someone ? " 

" I will not let you drag me into a quarrel," said 
Venetia ; " you are putting things into my mouth. / 
think mad extravagance is worse than intoxication, 
inasmuch as it is committed by reasonable people 
uninfluenced by drugs or alcohol. I think insults 
levelled at inoffensive people are worse than the wildest 
deeds committed under the influence of that demon, 
alcohol." 



128 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

' Who are the inoffensive people who have been 
insulted ? " 

" Good gracious ! well, of course you don't know 
you have not had to interview people." 

' What people ? " 

" Sir Joynson Harcourt, for instance, who had 
sixteen pianos sent to him only last week, to say no- 
thing of pantechnicon vans and half the contents of 
Harrods' and Whiteley's, so that Arlington Street was 
blocked, simply blocked, the whole of last Friday." 

" Did he say Arthur had sent them ? " 

" He had no direct proof but he knew. There was 
no other man in London would have done such a 
thing." 

" Did you send them, Ju-ju ? " 

" No," said Jones. " I did not." 

Venetia rose. 

"You admitted to me, yourself, that you did," said 
she. 

" I was only joking," he replied. 

Teresa went to the bell and rang it. 

" Good night," said Venetia, " after that I have 
nothing more to say." 

'' Thank goodness ! " murmured Teresa, when she 
was gone. " She made me shiver with her talk about 
extravagance. I've been horribly extravagant the 
last week when a woman is distracted she runs to 
clothes for relief anyhow, I did. I've got three new 
evening frocks and I want to show you them. I've 
never known your taste wrong." 

" Good ! " said Jones. " I'd like to see them." 

" Guess what they cost ? " 

" Can't." 

;< Two hundred and fifty and they are a bargain. 
You're not shocked, are you ? " 



THE SECOND HONEYMOON 129 

" Not a bit." 

" Well, come and look at them what's the time ? 
Half-past ten." She led the way from the room and 
upstairs. 

On the first landing she turned to the left, opened a 
door and disclosed a bedroom where a maid was moving 
about arranging things and unpacking boxes. 

A large cardboard box lay open on the floor, it was 
filled with snow-white lingerie. The instinct to bolt 
came upon Jones so strongly that he might have 
obeyed it, only for the hand upon his arm pressing him 
down into a chair. 

" Anne," said the Countess of Rochester, " bring 
out my new evening gowns, I want to show them." 

Then she turned to the cardboard box. " Here's 
some more of my extravagance. I couldn't resist 
them. Venetia nearly had a fit when she saw the bill. 
Look ! " 

She exhibited frilled and snow-white things, delicate 
and diaphanous and fit to be worn by angels. Then 
the dresses arrived, and were laid out on the bed and 
inspected. There was a black gown and a grey gown 
and a confection in pale blue. If Jones had been 
asked to price them he would have said a hundred 
dollars. Like most men he was absolutely uncon- 
scious of the worth of a woman's dress. To a woman, 
a Purdy and a ten-guinea Birmingham gun are just 
the same, and to a man, a ten-guinea Bayswater dress 
is little different, if worn by a pretty girl, from a 
seventy-guinea Bond Street is it Bond Street ? 
rig out. Unless he is a man-milliner. 

Jones said " Beautiful ! " gave the palm to the blue, 
and watched them carried off again by the maid. 

He had left his cigarettes downstairs, there were 
some in a box on a table, she made him take one and lit 



180 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

it for him, then she disappeared into a room adjoining, 
returning in a few minutes dressed in a kimono covered 
with gold swallows and followed by the maid. Then 
she took her seat before a great mirror, and the maid 
began to take down her hair and brush it. 

As the brushing went on she talked to the maid and 
to Jones upon all sorts of subjects. To the maid about 
the condition of her Teresa's hair, and a new fashion 
in hair-dressing ; to Jones about the Opera, the stout- 
ness of Caruso, and kindred matters. 

The hair having been arranged in one great, gorgeous 
plait, Jones, suddenly breaking free from a weird sort 
of hypnotism that had held him since first entering 
the room, rose to his feet. 

" I'll be back in a minute/' said he. 

He crossed the room, reached the door, opened it 
and passed out, closing the door. In the corridor he 
stood for half a moment with his hand to his head. 

Then he came down the stairs, crossed the hall, 
seized a hat and overcoat, put them on and opened the 
hall door. 

All the way down the stairs and across the hall, he 
felt as though he were being driven along by some 
viewless force, and now, standing at the door, that same 
force pushed him out of the house and on to the steps. 

He closed the door, came down the steps, and turned 
to the right. 



CHAPTER V 

THE MENTAL TRAP 

IT was a beautiful night, warm and starlit ; the 
waning moon had just begun to rise, and as he 
turned into St. James' Park a breath of tepid wind, 
grass-scented and balmy, blew in his face. 

He walked in the direction of Buckingham Palace. 

Where was he to go ? He had no ideas, no plans. 

He had failed in performing the duty that Fate 
had arranged for him to perform. He had failed, 
but not through cowardice, or, at least, not through 
fear of consequences to himself. 

The man who refuses to cut a lamb's throat, even 
though duty calls him to the act, has many things to 
be said for him. 

His distracted mind was not dealing with this 
matter, however. What held him entirely was the 
thought of her waiting for him, and how she would 
feel when she found he had deserted her. He had acted 
like a brute, and she would hate him accordingly. 
Not him, but Rochester. 

It was the same thing. The old story. Hatred, 
obloquy, disdain levelled against Rochester, affected 
him as though it were levelled against himself. He 
could not take refuge in his own personality. Even 
r>n the first day of his new life he had found that out 

131 9* 



132 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

at the club ; since then the struggle to maintain his 
position and the battles he had fought had steadily 
weakened his mental position as Jones, strengthened 
his position as Rochester. 

The strange psychological fact was becoming plain, 
though not to him, that the jealousy he ought to have 
felt on account of this woman's love for Rochester 
was not there. 

This woman had fascinated him, as woman had 
perhaps never fascinated a man before. She had kissed 
him, she loved him, and though his reason told him 
quite plainly that he was Victor Jones, and that she 
loved and had kissed another man, his heart did not 
resent that fact. 

Rochester was dead. It seemed to him that 
Rochester had never lived. 

He left the Park, and came along Knightsbridge, 
still thinking of her sitting there waiting for him, his 
mind straying from that to the kiss, the dinner, the 
bowl of roses that stood between them her voice. 

Then all at once these considerations vanished, all 
at once, and, like an extinguisher, fell on him that 
awful sensation of negation. 

His mind, pulled this way and that between con- 
tending forces, became a blank written across with 
letters of fire, forming the question : 

" Who am I ? " 

The acutest physical suffering could not have been 
worse than that torture of the overtaxed brain, that 
feeling that if he did not clutch at himself he would 
become nothing. 

He ran for a few yards, then it passed, and he found 
himself beneath a lamp-post, recovering and muttering 
his own name rapidly to himself, like a charm to exor- 
cise evil. 



THE MENT-AL TRAP 138 

' Jones Jones Jones ! " 

He looked around. 

[ There were not many people to be seen, but a man 
and woman a few yards away were standing and 
looking at him. They had evidently stopped, and 
turned to see what he was about, and they went on 
when they saw him observing them. 

They must have thought him mad. 

The hot shame of the idea was a better stimulant 
than brandy. He walked on. He was no longer 
thinking of the woman before the mirror. He was 
thinking of himself. 

He had been false to himself. 

One of the greatest possessions any man can have 
in the world is himself. Some men let that priceless 
property depreciate, some improve it, it is given to few 
men to tamper with it after the fashion of Jones. 

He saw this now, and, just as though a pit had 
opened before him, he drew back. He must stop this 
double life at once, and become his own self in reality ; 
failing to do that he would meet madness. He recog- 
nized this. No man's brain could stand what he had 
been going through for long. Had he been left to 
himself he might have adapted this mind gradually 
to the perpetual shifting from Jones to Rochester and 
vice versa. The woman had brought things to a crisis. 
The horror that had now suddenly fallen on him, the 
horror of the return of that awful feeling of negation, 
the horror of losing himself, cast all other considera- 
tions from his mind. 

He must stop this business at once. 

He would go away, return straight to America. 

That was easy to be done but would that save 
him ? Would that free him from this horrible, clinging 
personality that he had so lightly cast around himself ? 



134 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Nothing is stranger than mind. From the depth 
of his mind came the whisper " No." Intuition told 
him that were he to go to Timbuctoo, Rochester would 
cling to him, that he would wake up from sleep fancying 
himself Rochester, and then that feeling would return. 
What he required was the recognition by other people 
that he was himself (Jones), that the whole of this 
business was a deception, a stage play in real life. 
Their abuse, their threats, would not matter, their 
blows would be welcome, so he thought. Anything 
that would hit him back firmly into his real position 
in the scheme of things and save him from the dread 
of some day losing himself. 

After a while the exercise and night air calmed his 
mind. He had come to the great decision. A decision 
immutable now, since it had to do with the very core 
of his being. He would tell her everything. To- 
morrow morning he could confess all. Her fascina- 
tion upon him had loosened its hold, the terror had done 
that. He no longer loved her. Had he ever loved 
her ? That was an open question, or, in other words, 
a question no man could answer. He only knew now 
that he did not crave for her regard, only for her 
recognition of himself as Jones. 

She was the door out of the mental trap into which 
his mind had blundered. 

These considerations had carried him far into a 
region of mean streets and suburban houses. It was 
long after twelve o'clock, and he fell to thinking what 
he should do with himself for the rest of the night. 
It was impossible to walk about till morning, and he 
determined to return to Carlton House Terrace, let 
himself in with his latch-key, and slip upstairs to 
his room. If by any chance she had not retired for 
the night, and he chanced to meet her on the stairs 



THE MENTAL TRAP 185 

or in the hall, then the confession must be made 
forthwith. 

It was after two o'clock when he reached the house. 
He opened the door with his key, and, closing it 
softly, crossed the hall and went up the stairs. One 
of the hall-lamps had been left burning, evidently for 
him ; a lamp was burning also in the corridor. He 
switched on the electric light in his room and closed 
the door. 

Then he heaved a sigh of relief, undressed, and got 
into bed. 

All across the hall, up the stairs, and along the 
corridor he had been followed by the dread of meeting 
her, and having to enter on that terrible explanation 
right away. 

The craving to tell her all had been supplanted for 
the moment by the dread of the act. 

In the morning it would be different. He would 
be rested and have command more over himself, so 
he fancied. 



CHAPTER VI 

ESCAPE CLOSED 

HE was awakened by Mr. Church one has always 
to give him the prefix pulling up the blinds. 
His first thought was of the task before him. 

The mind does a lot of quiet business of its own 
when the blinds are down and the body is asleep, and 
during the night his mind, working in the darkness, 
had cleared up matters, countered and cut off all 
sorts of fears and objections, and drawn up a definite 
plan. 

He would tell her everything that morning. If 
she would not take his word for the facts, then he 
would have a meeting of the whole family. He felt 
absolutely certain that, explaining things bit by bit, 
and detail by detail, he could convince them of the 
death of Rochester and his own existence as Jones, 
absolutely certain that they would not push matters 
to the point of publicity. He held a trump card in 
the property he had recovered from Mulhausen, were 
he to be exposed publicly as an impostor all about 
the Plinlimon letters Voles, and Mulhausen would 
come out ; Mulhausen, that very astute practitioner, 
would not be long in declaring that he had been forced 
to return the title-deeds to protect his daughter's 
name ; Voles would swear anything, and their case 
would stand good on the proved fact that he (Jones) 

136 



ESCAPE CLOSED 137 

was a swindler. No ; assuredly the family would 
not press the matter to publicity. 

Having drunk his tea, he arose, bathed, and dressed 
with a calm mind. 

Then he came downstairs. 

She was not in the breakfast-room, where only one 
place was laid, and concluding that she was break- 
fasting in her own room, he sat down to table. 

After the meal, and with another sheaf of the early 
post letters in his hand, he crossed to the smoking- 
room, where he closed the door, put the letters on the 
table, and lit a cigar. Then, having smoked for a 
few minutes and collected his thoughts, he rang the 
bell, and sent for Mr. Church. 

" Church," said he, when that functionary arrived, 
' ' will you tell my wife I want to see her ? ' ' 

" Her ladyship left last night, your lordship she 
left at quarter to eleven." 

" Left ! Where did she go to ? " 

" She went to the South Kensington Hotel, your 
lordship." 

" Good heavens, what made her why did she go ? 
Ah, was it because I did not come back ? " 

" I think it was, your lordship." 

Mr. Church spoke gravely and the least bit stiffly. 
It could easily be seen that, as an old servant and 
faithful retainer, he was on the woman's side in the 
business. 

" I had to go out," said the other. " I will explain 
it to her when I see her. It was on a matter of 
importance. Thanks, that will do, Church." 

Alone again, he finished his cigar. 

The awful fear of the night before, the fear of 
negation and the loss of himself, had vanished with 
a brain refreshed by sleep and before this fact. 



138 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

What a brute he had been ! She had come back 
forgiving him for who knows what ; she had taken 
his part against his traducers, kissed him. She had 
fancied that all was right, and that happiness had 
returned, and he had coldly discarded her. 

It would have been less cruel to have beaten her. 
She was a good, sweet woman. He knew that fact 
now, both instinctively and by knowledge. He had 
not recognized it fully till this minute. 

Would it, after all, have been better to have 
deceived her, and to have played the part of 
Rochester ? That question occurred to him for a 
moment, to be flung at once away. It was not only 
personal antagonism to such a course, nor the 
dread of madness owing to his double life, that cast 
it out so violently, but the recognition of the goodness 
and lovableness of the woman. Leaving everything 
else aside, to carry on such a deception with her, 
even to think of it, was impossible. 

More than ever was he determined to clear this 
thing up and tell her all, and, to his honour be it said, 
his main motive now was to do his best by her. 

He finished his cigar, and then going into the hall 
obtained his hat and left the house. 

He did not know where the South Kensington Hotel 
might be, but a taxi solved that question, and shortly 
before ten o'clock he reached his destination. 

Yes, Lady Rochester had arrived last night, and 
was staying in the hotel, and, whilst the girl in the 
manager's office was sending up his name and 
asking for an interview, Jones took his seat in the 
lounge. 

A long time nearly ten minutes elapsed, and 
then a boy brought him her answer in the form of a 
letter. 



ESCAPE CLOSED 139 

He opened it. 

" Never again. This is good-bye. T." 

That was the answer. 

He sat with the sheet of paper in his hand, con- 
templating the shape and make of an arm-chair of 
wicker-work opposite him. 

What was he to do ? 

He had just received the answer he might have 
expected, neither more nor less. It was impossible 
for him to force an interview with her. He had 
overthrown Voles, climbed over Mulhausen, but the 
flight of stairs dividing him now from the private suite 
of the Countess of Rochester was an obstacle not to 
be overcome by courage or direct methods, and he 
knew of no indirect methods. 

He folded up the paper and put it in his pocket. 
Then he left the hotel and took his way back to 
Carlton House Terrace. 

If she would not see him, she could not refuse to 
read a letter. He would write to her and explain 
all. He would write in detail, giving the whole 
business, circumstance by circumstance. It would 
take him a long time, he guessed that, and ordinary 
paper would not do. He had seen a stack of manu- 
script paper, however, in one of the drawers of the 
bureau, and having shut the door and lit a cigarette, 
he took some of the sheets of long foolscap, ruled 
thirty-four lines to the page, and sat down to the 
business. 

This is what he said : 

" LADY ROCHESTER, 

'* I want you to read what follows carefully 



140 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

and not to form an opinion on the matter till all the 
details are before you. This document is not a 
letter in the strict sense of the term, it's more in 
the nature of an invoice of the cargo of stupidity and 
bad luck which I, the writer Victor Jones, of Phila- 
delphia, have been freighted with by an all-wise 
Providence for its own incomprehensible ends." 

Providence held him up for a moment. Was 
Providence neuter or masculine ? He risked it, and 
left it neuter, and continued. 

When the servant announced luncheon, he had 
covered twenty sheets of paper, and had only arrived 
at the American bar of the " Savoy." 

He went to luncheon, swallowed a whiting and half 
a cutlet, and returned. 

He sat down, read what he had written, and tore 
it across. 

That would never do. It was like the vast prelude 
to a begging letter. She would never read it through. 

He started again, beginning this time in the 
American bar of the " Savoy," writing very carefully. 
He had reached, by tea-time, the reading of Rochester's 
death in the paper. 

Well satisfied with his progress, he took afternoon 
tea, and then sat down comfortably to read what he 
had written. 

He was aghast with the result. The things that 
had happened to him were believable because they 
had happened to him, but in cold writing they had an 
air of falsity. She would never believe this yarn. He 
tore the sheets across. Then he burned all he had 
written in the grate, took his seat in the arm-chair, 
and began to think of the devil. 

Surely there was something diabolical in the whole 



ESCAPE CLOSED 141 

of this business and the manner in which everything 
and every circumstance headed him off from escape. 
After dinner he was sitting down to attempt a literary 
forlorn hope, when a sharp voice in the hall made 
him pause. 

The door opened, and Venetia Birdbrook entered. 
She wore a new hat that seemed bigger than the 
one he had last beheld, and her manner was wild. 

She shut the door, walked to the table, placed her 
parasol on it, and began peeling off a glove. 

" She's gone," said Venetia. 

Jones had risen to his feet. 

" Who's gone ? " 

" Teresa gone with Maniloff." 

He sat down. Then she blazed out. 

" Are you going to do nothing ? Are you going 
to sit there and let us all be disgraced ? She's gone- 
she's going to Paris. It was through her maid I 
learned it. She's gone from the hotel by this gone 
with Maniloff. Are you deaf or simply stupid ? 
You must follow her." 

He rose. 

" Follow her now, follow her and get her back ; 
there is just a chance. They are going to the 
' Bristol.' The maid told everything. I will go with 
you. There is a train at nine o'clock from Victoria ; 
you have only just time to catch it." 

" I have no money," said Jones, feeling in his 
pockets distractedly, " only about four pounds." 

" I have," replied she, " and our car is at the door. 
Are you afraid, or is it that you don't mind ? " 

" Come on ! " said Jones. 

He rushed into the hall, seized a hat and overcoat 
and next minute was buried in a stuffy limousine with 
Venetia' s sharp elbow poking him in the side. 



142 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

He was furious. 

There are people who seem born for the express 
purpose of setting other people by the ears. Venetia 
was one of them. Despite Voles, Mulhausen, debts, 
and want of balance, one might hazard the opinion 
that it was Venetia who had driven the unfortunate 
Rochester to his mad act. 

The prospect of a journey to Paris with this woman 
in pursuit of another man's wife was bad enough, but 
it was not this prospect that made Jones furious, 
though assisting. No doubt it was Venetia herself. 

She raised the devil in him, and on the journey to 
the station, though she said not a word, she managed 
to raise his exasperation with the world, herself, him- 
self, and his vile position, to the limit just below the 
last. The last was to come. 

At the station they walked through the crowd to 
the booking-office, where Venetia bought the tickets. 
Reminiscences of being taken on journeys as a small 
boy by his mother flitted across the mind of Jones, 
and did not improve his temper. 

He looked at the clock. It wanted twenty minutes 
of the starting time, and he was in the act of evading 
a barrow of luggage when Venetia arrived with the 
tickets. 

It had come into the mind of Jones that not only 
was he travelling to Paris with Lady Venetia 
Birdbrook, in pursuit of the wife of another man, 
but that they were travelling without luggage. If, in 
Philadelphia, he had dreamt of himself in such a 
position, he would have been disturbed as to the 
state of his health and the condition of his liver ; yet 
now, in reality, the thing did not seem preposterous. 
He was concerned as to the fact about the want of 
luggage. 



ESCAPE CLOSED 143 

" Look here/' said he, " what are we to do ? I 
haven't even a suit of pyjamas. I haven't even a 
tooth-brush. No hotel will take us in ! " 

" We don't want an hotel," said Venetia. " We'll 
come straight back if we can save Teresa. If not, if 
she insists in pursuing her mad course, you had better 
not come back at all. Come on, and let us take our 
places in the train." 

They moved away, and she continued. 

" For if she does you will never be able to hold up 
your head again. Everyone knows how you have 
behaved to her." 

" Oh, stop it ! " said he irritably. " I have enough 
to think about ! " 

" You ought to." 

Only just those three words, yet they set him off. 

" Ought I ? Well, what of yourself ? She told me 
last night things about you." 

" About me ! What things ? " 

" Never mind." 

" But I do." She stopped and he stopped. " I 
mind very much. What things did she tell you ? " 

" Nothing much, only that you worried the life 
out of her, and that though I was bad, you were 
worse." 

Venetia sniffed. She was just turning to resume 
her way to the train when she stopped dead like a 
pointer. 

" That's them," she said, in a hard, tense whisper. 

Jones looked. 

A veiled lady accompanied by a bearded man, with 
a folded umbrella under his arm, and following a 
porter laden with wraps and small luggage, were 
making their way through the crowd towards the 
train. 



144 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

The veil did not hide her from him. He knew at 
once it was she. 

It was then that Venetia's effect upon him acted 
as the contents of the white paper acts when emptied 
into the tumbler that holds the blue-paper half of the 
Seidlitz powder. 

Venetia saw his face. 

" Don't make a scene ! " she cried. 

That was the stirring of the spoon. 

He rushed up to the bearded man and caught him 
by the arm. The bearded one turned sharply and 
pushed him away. He was a big man, he looked a 
powerful man ; dressed up as a conquering hero he 
would have played the part to perfection the sort 
of man women adore for their " power " and man- 
liness. He had a cigarette between his thick, red, 
bearded lips. 

Jones wasn't much to look at, but he had practised 
odd times at Joe Hennessy's, otherwise known as Ike 
Snidebaum, of Garden Street, Philadelphia, and he 
had the fighting pluck of a badger. 

He struck out, missed, got a drum-sounder in on 
the ribs, right under the uplifted umbrella arm and the 
raised umbrella, and then, swift as light, got in an 
uppercut on the whiskers under the left side of the jaw. 

The umbrella man sat down, as men sit when 
chairs are pulled from under them, shouting for help 
that was the humorous and pitiable part of it 
scrambled on to his feet, instantly to be downed 
again. 

Then he lay on his back with arms out, pretending 
to be mortally injured. 

The whole affair lasted only fifteen seconds. 

You can fancy the scene. 

Jones looked round. Venetia and the criminal, 



ESCAPE CLOSED 145 

having seen the display and at the National Sporting 
Club you often pay five pounds to see worse were 
moving away together through the throng, the floored 
one, with arms still out, was murmuring : " Brandee, 
brandee ! " into the ear of a kneeling porter, and a 
station policeman was at Jones's side. 
Jones took him apart a few steps. 
" I am the Earl of Rochester," said he, in a half 
whisper. " That guy has got what he wanted never 
mind what he was doing. Kick the beast awake, 
and ask him if he wants to prosecute." 

The constable came and stood over the head end 
of the sufferer, who was now leaning on one arm. 

" Do you want to prosecute this gentleman ? " asked 
the constable. 

" NicheVo," murmured the other, " no no. 
Brandee ! " 

' Thought so," said Jones. 

Then he walked away towards the entrance with 
the constable. 

" My address is Carlton House Terrace," said he. 
' When you get that chap on his pins you can tell 
him to come there and I'll give him another dose. 
Here's a sovereign for you." 

' Thanks, your lordship," said the guardian of 
the peace. " You landed him fine, I will say. I 
didn't see the beginning of the scrap, but I saw the 
knock out. You won't have any more bother with 
him." 

" I don't think so," said Jones. 
He was elated, jubilant ; a weight seemed lifted 
from his mind, all his evil humour had vanished. 
The feel of those whiskers and the resisting jaw was 
still with him ; he had got one good blow in at cir- 
cumstance and the world. He could have sung. He 

10 



146 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

was coming out of the station when someone ran up 
from behind. 

It was Venetia Venetia, delirious and jabbering. 

" Teresa is in the car ! You have done it now ! 
You have done it now ! What made you do this 
awful thing ? Are you mad ? Here in the open 
station, before everyone, you have h-h-heaped this 
last disgrace on us on me I " 

" Oh, shut up ! " said Jones. 

He sighted the car, ran to it, and opened the door. 
A whimpering bundle in the corner stretched out 
hands as if to ward him off. 

" Oh, oh, oh ! " sighed and murmured the bundle. 

Jones caught one of the hands, leaned in, and kissed 
it. Then he turned to Venetia, who had followed him. 

" Get in ! " he said. 

She got in. He got in after her, and closed the 
door. Venetia put her head out of the window. 

" Home ! " cried she to the chauffeur. 

Jones said nothing till they had cleared the station 
precincts. Then he began to talk in the darkness, 
addressing his remarks to both women in a weird sort 
of monologue. 

" All this is nothing/' said he. " You must feoth 
forget it. When you hear what I have to tell you 
to-morrow you won't bother to remember all this. 
No one that counts saw that ; they were all strangers 
and making for the cars. I gave the officer a sovereign. 
What I have to say is this : I must have a meeting 
of the whole family to-morrow to-morrow morning. 
Not about this affair about something else, something 
entirely to do with me. I have been trying to explain 
all day tried to write it out, but couldn't. I have 
to tell you something that will simply knock you all 
out of time." 



ESCAPE CLOSED 147 

Suddenly the sniffing bundle in the corner became 
articulate. 

" I didn't want to do it ! I didn't want to do it ! 
I hate him ! Oh, Ju-ju, if you had not treated me 
so last night I would never have done it ! Never, 
never, never ! " 

" I know," he replied. " But it was not my fault 
leaving you like that. I had to go. You will know 
everything to-morrow. When you hear all you will 
very likely never speak to me again, though I am 
innocent enough, Lord knows." 

Then came Venetia's voice : 

" This is new. Heaven knows we have had disgrace 
enough ! What else is going to fall on us ? Why put 
it off. till to-morrow ? What new thing have you 
done ? " 

Before Jones could reply, the warm-hearted bundle 
in the corner ceased sniffing and turned on Venetia. 
" " No matter what he has done, you are his sister, 
and you have no right to accuse him ! " 

" Accuse him ! " cried the outraged Venetia. 

' Yes, accuse him. You don't say it, but you feel 
it. . I believe you'd be glad in some wicked way if he 
had done anything really terrible/' 

Venetia made a noise like the sound emitted by a 
choking hen. 

Teresa had put her finger on the spot. 

Venetia was not a wicked woman. She was some- 
thing nearly as bad a righteous woman, one of the 
ever judges. The finding out of other people's sins 
gave her pleasure. 

Before she could reply articulately, Jones interposed. 
An idea had suddenly entered his practical mind. 

" Good Heavens ! " said he. " What has become of 
your luggage ? " 

10* 



148 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" I don't know and I don't care," replied the roused 
one. " Let it go with the rest." 

The car drew up. 

' You will stay with us to-night, I suppose ? " said 
Venetia coldly. 

" I suppose so," replied the other. 

Jones got out. 

" I will call here to-morrow morning at nine o'clock," 
said he. "I want the whole family present." Then, 
to the unfortunate wife of the defunct Rochester : 
" Don't worry about what took place this evening. 
It was all my fault. You will think differently about 
me when you hear all in the morning." 

She sighed and passed up the steps, following Venetia 
like a woman in a dream. When the door closed on 
them he took the number of the house, then at the 
street corner he looked at the name of the street. It 
was Curzon Street. Then he walked home. 

Come what might, he had done a good evening's 
work. More than ever did he feel the charm of this 
woman, her loyalty, her power of honest love. 

What a woman ! And what a fate ! 

It was at this moment, whilst walking home to 
Carlton House Terrace, that the true character of 
Rochester appeared before him in a new and lurid 
light. 

Up to this Rochester had appeared to him mad, 
tricky, irresponsible ; but up to this he had not clearly 
seen the villainy of Rochester. The woman showed 
it. Rochester had picked up a stranger because of 
the mutual likeness, and sent him home to play his 
part, hoping, no doubt, to have a ghastly hit at his 
family. What about his wife ? He had either never 
thought of her or he had not cared. 

And such a wife ! 



ESCAPE CLOSED 149 

' That fellow ought to be dug up and cremated," 
said Jones to himself, as he opened the door with his 
latch-key. " He ought, sure. Well, I hope I'll 
cremate his reputation to-morrow." 

Having smoked a cigar, he went upstairs and to bed. 

He had been trying to think of how he would open 
the business on the morrow, of what he would say to 
start with. Then he gave up the attempt, determining 
to leave everything to the inspiration of the moment. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE FAMILY COUNCIL 

HE arrived at Curzon Street at fifteen minutes 
after nine next morning, and was shown up to 
the drawing-room by the butler. Here he took his 
seat and waited the coming of the family, amusing 
himself as best he could by looking round at the furni- 
ture and pictures and listening to the sounds of the 
house and the street outside. 

He heard taxi horns, the faint rumble of wheels, 
voices. 

Now he heard someone running up the stairs out- 
side a servant probably, for the sound suddenly 
ceased, and was followed by a laugh, as though two 
servants had met on the stairs and were exchanging 
words. 

One could not imagine any of that terrible family 
running up the stairs lightly or laughing. Then, after 
another minute or two, the door opened, and the Duke 
of Melford entered. He was in light tweeds with a buff 
waistcoat ; he held a morning paper under his arm, 
and was polishing his eyeglasses. 
t He nodded at Jones. 

1' " Morning," said his Grace, waddling to a chair Jand 
taking his seat. " The women will be up in a moment." 
He took his seat, and spread open the paper as if to 

I50J 



THE FAMILY .COUNCIL 151 

glance at the news. Then, looking over his spectacles : 
" Glad to hear from Collins you've got that land back. 
I was in there just after you left, and he told me." 

" Yes/' said Jones, " I've got it back." 

He had no time to say more, as at that moment the 
door opened and the " women " appeared, led by the 
Dowager Countess of Rochester. 

Venetia shut the door, and they took their seats 
about the room ; whilst Jones, who had risen up, 
reseated himself. 

Then, with the deep breath of a man preparing for 
a dive, he began : 

" I have asked you all to come here this morning 
I asked you to meet me this morning because I just 
want to tell you the truth. I am an intruder into 
your family 

" An intruder ? " cried the mother of the defunct. 
" Arthur, what are you saying ? " 

" One moment," went on he ; "I want to begin 
by explaining what I have done for you all, and then, 
perhaps, you will see that I am an honest man, even 
though I am in a false position. In the last few days 
I have got back one million and eight thousand 
pounds that is to say, the coal-mine property and 
other money as well, one million and eight thousand 
that would have been a dead loss only for me." 

' You have acted like a man," said the Duke of 
Melford. " Go on what do you mean about intru- 
sion ? " 

" Let me tell the thing in my own way," said Jones 
irritably. " The late Lord Rochester got dreadfully 
involved owing to his own stupidity with a woman 
I call him the late Lord Rochester, because I have to 
announce now the fact of his death." 

The effect of this statement was surprising. The 



152 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

four listeners sat like frozen corpses for a moment ; 
then they moved, casting terrified eyes at one another. 
It was the Duke of Melford who spoke. 

" We will leave your father's name alone," said he. 
' Yes, we know he is dead what more have you to 
say ? " 

" I was not talking of my father," said Jones, 
beginning to get bogged and slightly confused, also 
angry ; "he was not my father. If you will only 
listen to me without interrupting, I will make things 
plain. I am talking of myself or at least the man who 
I am representing, the Earl of Rochester. I say that 
I am not the Earl of Rochester, he is dead." He turned 
to Rochester's wife. " I hate to have to tell you this 
right out and in such a manner, but it has to be told. 
I am not your husband. I am an American. My 
name is Victor Jones, and I come from Philadelphia." 

The Dowager Countess of Rochester, who had been 
leaning forward in her chair, sank back ; she had 
fainted. 

Whilst Venetia and the Duke of Melford were bring- 
ing her to, the wife of Rochester, who had been staring 
at Jones in a terrified manner, ran from the room. She 
ran like a blind person with hands outspread. 

Jones stood whilst the unfortunate lady was re- 
suscitated. She returned to consciousness sobbing, 
and flipping her hands, and she was led from the room 
by Venetia. Beyond the door Jones heard her voice 
r aised in lamentation : 

" My boy my poor boy ! " 

Venetia had said nothing. 

Jones had expected a scene, outcries, questions, 
but there was something in all this that was quite 
beyond him. They had asked no questions, seemed to 
take the whole thing for granted, Venetia especially. 



THE FAMILY -COUNCIL 153 

The Duke of Melford shut the door. 

" Your mother I mean Lady Rochester's heart is 
not strong," said he, going to the bell and touching 
it. "I must send for the doctor to see her." 

Jones, more than ever astonished by the coolness 
of the other, sat down again. 

" Look here," said he, "I can't make you all out 
you've called me no names you haven't let me fully 
explain ; the old lady is the only one that seems to 
have taken the news in. Can't you understand what 
I have told you ? " 

" Perfectly," said the old gentleman, " and it's the 
most extraordinary thing I have ever heard and the 
most interesting. I want to have a long talk about it. 
James," to the servant who had answered the bell, 
" telephone for Dr. Cavendish. Her ladyship has had 
another attack." 

" Dr. Cavendish has just been telephoned for, your 
Grace, and Dr. Simms." 

' That will do," said his Grace. " Yes, 'pon my 
soul, it's quite extraordinary." 

He took a cigar-case from his pocket, proffered a 
cigar, which Jones took, and then lit one himself. 

" Look here ! " said Jones, suddenly alarmed by a 
new idea, " you aren't guying me, are you ? You 
haven't taken it into your heads that I've gone dotty 
mad ? " 

" Mad I " cried the old gentleman, with a start. 
" Never such an idea never entered my mind. 
Why why should it ? " 

" Only you take this thing so quietly." 

" Quietly well, what would you have ? My dear 
fellow, what is the good of shouting ever ? Not a 
bit. It's bad form. I take everything as it comes." 

" Well, then, listen whilst I tell you how all this 



154 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

happened. I came over here some time ago to rope 
in a contract with the British Government over some 
steel fixtures. I was partner with a man named Aaron 
Stringer. Well, I failed on the contract, and found 
myself broke with less than ten pounds in my pocket. 
I was sitting in the ' Savoy ' lounge, when in came a 
man whom I knew at once by sight, but I couldn't 
place his name on him. We had drinks together in 
the American bar, then we went upstairs to the lounge. 
He would not tell me who he was. ' Look in the look- 
ing-glass behind you/ said he, ' and you will see who 
I am.' I looked and saw him. I was his twin image. 
I must tell you first that I had been having some 
champagne cocktails and a whisky-and-soda. I'm 
not used to drink ; we had a jamboree together, and 
dinner at some place, and then he sent me home as 
himself I was blind. 

" When I woke up next morning I said nothing, but 
lay low, thinking it was all a joke. I ought to have 
spoken at once, but didn't ; one makes mistakes in 
life " 

" We all do that," said the other. " Yesgo on." 

" And later that day I opened a newspaper and saw 
my name, and that I had committed suicide. It was 
Rochester, of course, that had committed suicide ; 
did it on the Underground. Then I was in a nice fix. 
There I was in Rochester's clothes, with not a penny 
in my pockets ; couldn't go to the hotel, couldn't go 
anywhere so I determined to be Rochester, for a 
while at least. 

" I found his affairs in an awful muddle. You know 
that business about the coal-mine ? Well, I managed 
to right his affairs. I wasn't thinking of any profit 
to myself over the business I just did it because it 
was the right thing to do. 



THE FAMILY -COUNCIL 155 

" Now, I want to be perfectly plain with you. I 
might have carried on this game always, and lived in 
Rochester's shoes, only for two things : one is his wife, 
the other is a feeling that has been coming on me that 
if I carried on any longer I might go dotty. Times 
I've had attacks of a feeling that I did not know who 
I was. It's leading this double life, you know. Now 
I want to get right back and be myself, and cut clear 
of all this. You can't think what it has been, carrying 
on this double life, hearing the servants calling me 
' your lordship.' I couldn't have imagined it would 
have acted on the brain so. I've been simply crazy 
to hear someone calling me by my right name. Well, 
that's the end of the matter. I want to settle up and 
get back to the States 

The Duke listened attentively to all this. 

Then he asked questions about America, scarcely 
seeming to follow the replies ; then the conversation, 
somehow, took a general turn, and at last the door 
opened and a servant appeared. 

" Dr. Simms has arrived, your Grace." 

The Duke of Melford rose from his chair. 

" One moment," said he to Jones. He left the room, 
closing the door. 

Jones tipped the ash off his cigar into a jardiniere 
near by. 

He was astonished and a bit disturbed by the cool 
manner in which his wonderful confession had been 
received. 

" Can it be they are lying low and sending for the 
police ? " thought he. 

He was debating this question, when the door 
opened and the duke walked in, followed by a bald, 
elderly, pleasant-looking man ; after this latter came 
a cadaverous gentleman, wearing glasses. 



156 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

The bald man was Dr. Simms ; the cadaverous, Dr. 
Cavendish. 

Simms nodded at Jones as though he knew him. 

" I have asked these gentlemen, as friends of the 
family, to step in and talk about this matter before 
seeing Lady Rochester," said the duke. " She has 
been taken to her room, and is not yet prepared for 
visitors." 

" I shall be delighted to help in any way," said 
Simms ; " my services, professional or private, are 
always at your disposal, your Grace." He sat down and 
turned to Jones. " Now tell us all about it," said he. 

Cavendish took another chair, and the duke remained 
standing. 

Jones felt irritated, felt somewhat as a maestro 
would feel who, having finished that musical obstacle 
race, the Grand Polonaise, finds himself requested to 
play it again. 

" I've told the whole thing once," said he, " I can't 
go over it again. The duke knows." 

Suddenly Cavendish spoke. 

" I understand from what his Grace said on the 
stairs that there is some trouble about identity ? " 

" Some trouble ? " said Jones. " I reckon you are 
right in calling it some trouble." 

' You are Mr. Jones, I think ? " said Simms. 

" Victor Jones was the name I was christened by," 
answered Jones. 

" Quite so American ? " 

" American ! " 

" Now, Mr. Jones, as a matter of formality, may I 
ask you where you live in America ? " 

" Philadelphia." 

" And in Philadelphia what might be your 
address ? " 



THE FAMILY COUNCIL 157 

" Number one thousand one hundred and one, 
Walnut Street," replied Jones. 

Cavendish averted his head for a moment, and the 
duke shifted his position on the hearthrug, leaning 
his elbow on the mantel and caressing for a moment 
his chin. 

Simms alone remained unmoved. 

" Just so," said Simms. " Have you any family ? " 

11 Nope." 

" I beg your pardon ? " 

"No." 

M I thought you said ' nope ' my mistake." 

" Not a bit, I did say ' nope ' it's short for no." 

" Short for no. I see, just so." 

Cavendish interposed with an air of interest. 

" How would you spell that word ? " asked he. 

Jones resented Cavendish somehow. 

" I don't know," said he ; " this isn't a spelling bee. 
N-o-p-e, I suspect. You gentlemen have undertaken 
to question me on behalf of the family as to my iden- 
tity. I think we had better stick to that point." 

" Just so," said Simms, " precisely 

" Excuse me," said the Duke of Melford, " I think 
if Mr. er Jones wishes to prove his identity as Mr. 
Jones, he will admit that his actions will help. Now, 
Lord Rochester was a very, shall we say, fastidious 
person, quiet in his actions." 

" Oh, was he ? " said Jones ; " that's news." 

" Quiet, that is to say, in his movements ; let it 
stand at that. Now, my friend Collins said to me 
something about the eating of a document." 

Jones bristled. 

" Collins had no right to tell you that," said he. "I 

told him that privately. When did he tell you that ? " 

" When I called, just after his interview with you. 



158 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

He did not say it in any way offensively. In fact, he 
seemed to admire you for your energy and so forth." 

" Did you, in fact, eat a document ? " asked Simms, 
with an air of bland interest. 

" I did, and saved a very nasty situation, and a 
million of money." 

What was the document ? " asked Cavendish. 

" A bill of exchange." 

" Now, may I ask why you did that ? " queried 
Simms. 

" No, you mayn't," replied Jones. " It's a private 
affair affecting the honour of another person." 

" Quite so," said Simms. " But, just one more 
question. Did you hear a voice telling you to er 
eat this paper ? " 

" Yes." 

" What sort of voice was it ? " 

" It was the sort of voice that belongs to common- 
sense." 

" Ha, ha ! " laughed Cavendish. " Good, very 
good ! But there is just something I want to ask. 
How was it, Mr. er Jones, that you turned into 
your present form, exchanged your position, as it were, 
with the Earl of Rochester ? " 

" Oh, lord ! " said Jones. Then to the Duke of 
Melford : " Tell them." 

" Well," said the duke, " Mr. Jones was sitting in 
the lounge of an hotel when a gentleman entered whom 
he knew but could not recognize." 

" Couldn't place his name," cut in Jones. 

" Precisely. The gentleman said, ' Turn round and 
look in that mirror.' " 

' You've left the drinks out," said Jones. 

" True. Mr. Jones and the gentleman had partaken 
of certain drinks." 



THE FAMILY -COUNCIL 159 

" What were the drinks ? " put in Simms. 

" Champagne cocktails, whisky-and-soda, then a 
bottle of Bollinger after," said Jones. 

" Mr. Jones looked into the mirror," continued the 
duke, " and saw that he was the other gentleman 
that is to say, Lord Rochester." 

" No, the twin image," put in Jones. 

" The twin image well, after that more liquor 
was consumed." 

" The chap doped me with drink, and sent me home 
as himself," cut in Jones. " And I woke up in a 
strange bed, with a guy pulling up the window-blinds." 

" A guy ? " put in Cavendish. 

" A chap. Church is his name. I thought I was 
being bamboozled, so I determined to play the part of 
Lord Rochester. You know the rest " turning to 
the Duke of Melford. 

" Well," said Cavendish, " I don't think we need 
ask any more questions of Mr. Jones. We are con- 
vinced, I believe, that Mr. Jones and er the Earl 
of Rochester are different ? " 

" Quite so," said Simms. " We are sure of his bona 
fides, and, of course, it is for the family to decide how 
to meet this extraordinary situation. I am sure they 
will sympathize with Mr. Jones and make no trouble. 
It is quite evident he had no wrong intent." 

" Now you are talking," said Jones. 

" Quite so. One more question. Does it seem to 
you I have not been talking at all up to this ? " 

Jones laughed. 

" It seems to me you have uttered one word or two. 
Ask a bee in a bottle, has it been buzzing ? " 

The cadaverous Cavendish, who, from his outward 
appearance presented no signs of a sense of humour, 
exploded at this hit ; but Simms remained unmoved. 



160 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Quite so," said he. " Well, that's all that remains 
to be said. But, now as a professional man, has not 
all this tried you a good deal, Mr. Jones ? I should 
think it was enough to try any man's health." 

" Oh, my health is all right," said Jones. " I can 
eat and all that, but times I've felt as if I wasn't one 
person or the other. That's one of my main reasons 
for quitting, leaving aside other things. You see, I 
had to carry on up to a certain point, and, if you'll 
excuse me blowing my own horn, I think I've not done 
bad. I could have put my claws on all that money. 
If I hadn't been a straight man, there's a lot of things 
I could have done, appears to me. Well, now that 
everything is settled, I think that ought to be taken 
into consideration. I don't ask much just a com- 
mission on the money salved." 

" Decidedly," said Simms. " In my opinion you 
are quite right. But as a professional man, my concern 
just a moment ago was about your health." 

" Oh, the voyage back to the States will put that 
right." 

" Quite so, but you will excuse my professional 
instinct and I am giving you my services for nothing, 
if you will let me I notice signs of nerve exhaustion. 
Let's look at your tongue." 

Jones put out his tongue. 

" Not bad," said Simms. " Now just cross your 
legs." 

Jones crossed his legs right over left, and Simms, 
standing before him, gave him a little, sharp tap just 
under the right knee-cap. The leg flew out. 

Jones laughed. 

" Exaggerated patella reflex," said Simms. " Nerve 
fag, nothing more. A pill or two is all you want. You 
don't notice any difficulty in speech ? " 



THE FAMILY. COUNCIL 161 

" Not much," said Jones, laughing. 

" Say : ' Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled 
peppers.' ' 

" Peter Peter piped a pick ' began Jones, then 
he laughed. 

" You can't say it," said Simms, cocking a wise 
eyebrow. 

" You bet I can," said the patient. " Peter Piper 
pucked a pick " 

" Nerve exhaustion," said Simms. 

" Say, doc," cut in Jones, beginning to feel slight 
alarm, " what are you getting at ? You're beginning 
to make me feel frightened. There's not anything 
really wrong with me, is there ? " 

" Nothing but what can be righted by care," replied 
Simms. 

" Let me try Mr. Jones with a lingual test," said 
Cavendish. " Say : ' She stood at the door of the 
fish-sauce shop in the Strand welcoming him in.' ' 

" She stood at the door of the fish-shauce shop in 
the Strand welcom-om-ming im," said Jones. 

" H'm, h'm ! " said Cavendish. 

' That's crazy," said Jones. " Nobody could say 
that. Oh, I'm all right. I reckon a little liver pill 
will fix me up." 

The two doctors withdrew to a window and said a 
few words together. Then they both nodded to the 
Duke of Melford. 

"Well," said the duke, "that's settled. And 
now, Mr. Jones, I hope you will stay here for 
luncheon." 

Jones had had enough of that house. 

" Thanks," said he, "but I think I'll be getting 
back. I want a walk. You'll find me at Carlton 
House Terrace, where we can finish up this business. 

ii 



162 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

It's a weight off my mind, now everything is over. 
Whew ! I can tell you, I'm hungry for the States." 

He rose, and took his hat, which he had placed on 
the floor, nodded to the Duke of Melford, and turned 
to the door. 

Simms was standing in front of the door. 

" Excuse me/' said Simms, " but I would not 
advise you to go out in your condition ; much better 
stay here till your nerves have recovered." 

Jones stared at him. 

" My nerves are all right," said he. 

" Don't, my dear fellow," said Cavendish. 

Jones turned and looked at him, then turned again 
to the door. 

Simms was barring the way still. 

" Don't talk nonsense," said Jones. " Think I was 
a baby. I tell you I'm all right. What on earth do 
you mean ? Upon my soul, you're like a lot of 
children ! " 

He tried to pass Simms. 

' You must not leave this room yet," said Simms. 
" Pray quiet yourself." 

" You mean to say you'll stop me ? " 

" Yes." 

Then in a flash he knew. These men had not been 
sent for to attend the Dowager Countess of Rochester ; 
they were alienists, and they considered him to be 
Rochester Rochester gone mad. 

Right from the first start of his confession he had 
been taken for a madman. That was why Venetia 
had said nothing ; that was why the old lady had 
fainted ; that was why his wife at least Rochester's 
wife had run from the room like a blind woman. 

He stood appalled for a moment before this self- 
evident fact. Then he spoke : 



THE FAMILY COUNCIL 163 

" Open that door get away from that door ! " 

" Sit down and quiet yourself," said Simms, staring 
him full in the eye. " You will not leave this 
house ! " 

It was Simms who sat down, flung away by Jones. 

Then Cavendish pinioned him from behind, the 
Duke of Melford shouted directions, Simms scrambled 
to his feet, and Jones, having won free of Cavendish, 
the rough-and-tumble began. 

They fought all over the drawing-room, upsetting 
jardinieres, little tables, costly china. 

Jones's foot went into a china cabinet, carrying 
destruction amongst a concert party of little Dresden 
figures ; Simms' portly behind bumped against a 
pedestal bearing a portrait bust of the nineteenth 
Countess of Rochester, upsetting pedestal and smash- 
ing bust ; and the Duke of Melford, fine old sports- 
man that he was, assisting in the business with the 
activity of a boy of eighteen, received a kick on 
the shin that recalled Eton across a long vista of 
years. 

Then at last they had him down on a sofa, his hands 
tied behind his back with the duke's bandanna 
handkerchief. 

Jones uttered no cry, the others no sound, but the 
bumping and banging and smashing had been heard 
all over the house. A tap came to the door, and a 
voice. The duke rushed to the door and opened it. 

" Nothing ! " said he. " Nothing wrong ! Off with 
you ! " 

He shut the door and turned to the couch. 

Jones caught a glimpse of himself in a big mirror, 
happily unsmashed caught a glimpse of himself all 
tumbled and tousled, with Simms beside him, and 
Cavendish standing by, refixing his glasses. 

n* 



164 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

He recognized a terrible fact. Though he had 
smashed hundreds of pounds' worth of property, 
though he had fought these men like a mad bull, now 
that the fight was over, they showed not the least sign 
of resentment. Simms was patting his shoulder. 

He had become possessed of the mournful privilege 
of the insane, to fight without raising ire in one's 
antagonists, to smash with impunity, to murder, with- 
out being brought to justice. 

Also he recognized that he had been a fool. He had 
acted like a madman that is to say, like a man furious 
with anger. Anger and madness have awful 
similarities. 

He moved slightly away from Simms. 

" I reckon I've been a fool," said he. ' Three to 
one is not fair play. Come, let my hands free. I 
won't fight any more." 

" Certainly," said Simms. " But let me point out 
that we were not fighting you in the least, only pre- 
venting you from taking a course detrimental to your 
health. Cavendish, will you kindly untie that absurd 
handkerchief ? " 

Cavendish obeyed, and Jones, his hands freed, 
rubbed his wrists. 

' What are you going to do now ? " asked he. 

" Nothing," said Simms. " You are perfectly free, 
but we don't want you to go out till your health is 
perfectly restored. I know you will say that you feel 
all right. No matter. Take a physician's advice 
and just remain here quiet for a little while. Shall 
we go to the library, where you can amuse yourself 
with the newspaper or a book whilst I make up a little 
prescription for you ? " 

" Look here ! " said Jones. " Let's talk quietly 
for a moment. You think I'm mad ? " 



THE FAMILY .COUNCIL 165 

" Not in the least," said Simms. ' You are only 
suffering from a nerve upset." 

" Well, if I'm not mad, you have no right to keep 
me here." 

This was cunning, but, unfortunately, cunning, 
like anger, is an attribute of madness, as well as of 
sanity. 

" Now," said Simms, with an air of great frankness, 
" do you think that it is for our pleasure that we ask 
you to stay here for a while ? We are not keeping 
you just asking you to stay. We will go down to 
the library, and I will just have a prescription made 
up ; then, when you have considered matters a bit, 
you can use your own discretion about going." 

Jones recognized at once that there was no use in 
trying to fight this man with any other weapon than 
subtlety. He was fairly trapped. His tale was 
such that no man would believe it, and, persisting in 
that tale, he would be held as a lunatic. On top of 
the tale was Rochester's bad reputation for sanity. 
They called him " mad Rochester." 

Then, as he rose up and followed to the library, a 
last inspiration seized him. 

He stopped at the drawing-room door. 

" Look here," said he, " one moment. I can -prove 
what I say. You send out a man to Philadelphia and 
make inquiries, fetch some of the people over 'that 
knew me. You'll find I'm myself, and that I've 
told you no lie." 

' We will do anything you like," said Simms, " but 
first let us go down to the library." 

They went. It was a large, pleasant room lined with 
books. 

Simms sat down at the writing-table, whilst the 
others took chairs. He wrote a prescription, and the 



166 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

duke, ringing the bell, ordered a servant to take the 
prescription to the chemist's. 

Then during the twenty minutes before the servant 
returned they talked. Jones, giving again his 
address, that fantastic address which was yet real, 
and the names and descriptions of people he knew and 
who would know him. 

' You see, gentlemen," said he, " it's just this. I 
have only one crave in life just now to be myself 
again. Not exactly that, but to be recognized as 
myself. You can't imagine what that feeling is. 
You needn't tell me. I know exactly what you think 
you think I'm Rochester gone crazy. I know the 
yarn I've slung you sounds crazy, but it's the truth. 
The fact is I've felt at times that if I didn't get some- 
one to recognize me as myself, I'd go crazy. Just one 
person to believe in me ; that's all I want, and then 
I'd feel free of this cursed Rochester. Put yourself 
in my place. Imagine that you have lost touch with 
everything you ever were ; that you were playing 
another man's part, and that everyone in the world 
kept on insisting you were the other guy. Think of 
that for a position ! Why, gentlemen, you might 
open that door wide. I wouldn't want to go out, not 
till I had convinced one of you, at all events, that my 
story was true. I wouldn't want to go back to the 
States, not till I had convinced you that I am who I 
am. It seems foolish, but it's a bed-rock fact. I 
have to make good on this position convince some- 
one who knows the facts, and so get myself back. It 
wouldn't be any use my going to Philadelphia. I'd 
say to people I know there, ' I'm Jones ' ; they'd say, 
' Of course you are,' and believe me. But then, do 
you see, they wouldn't know of this adventure, and 
their belief in me wouldn't be a bit of good. Of course 



THE FAMILY .COUNCIL 167 

I know I'm Jones ; all the same, I've been playing 
the part of Rochester so hard that times I've almost 
believed I'm him, times I've lost myself, and I have 
a feeling at the back of my mind that if I don't get 
someone to believe me to be who I am, I may go dotty 
in earnest. It's a feeling without reason, I know. 
It's more like having a grit in the eye than anything 
else. I want to get rid of that grit, and I can't take 
it out myself, someone else must do it. One person 
would be enough, just one person to believe in what 
I say, and I would be myself again. That's why I 
want you to send to Philadelphia. The mind is a 
curious thing, gentlemen ; the freedom of the body 
is nothing if the mind is not free, and my mind can 
never be free till another person, who knows my 
whole story, believes in what I say. I could not 
have imagined anyone being trapped like this ; I've 
heard of an actor guy once playing a part so often he 
went loony, and fancied himself the character. I'm 
not like that ; I'm as sane as you. It's just this 
uneasy, uncomfortable feeling this want to get abso- 
lutely clean out of this business, that's the trouble." 

" Never mind ! " said Simms cheerfully, " we will 
get you out, only you must not worry yourself. I 
admit that your story is strange, but we will send to 
Philadelphia and make all inquiries come in.'' 

The servant had knocked at the door. He entered 
with the medicine. Simms sent him for a wine-glass, 
and when it arrived he poured out a dose. 

" Now take a dose of your medicine like a man," 
said the kindly physician, jocularly, " and another 
in four hours' time ; it will remake your nerves." 

Jones tossed the stuff off impatiently. 

" Say," said he, " there's another point I've forgot. 
You might go to the ' Savoy ' and get the clerk, there, 



168 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

he'd recognize me ; the bar-tender in the American 
bar, he'd maybe be able to recognize me too ; he saw 
us together I say, I feel a bit drowsy ; you haven't 
doped me, have you ? " 

Simms and Cavendish, leaving the house together 
five minutes later, had a moment's conversation on 
the steps. 

" What do you think of him ? " said Simms. 

" Bad," said Cavendish. " He reasons on his own 
case, that's always bad ; and did you notice how 
cleverly he worked that in about wanting someone to 
believe in him ? " 

They walked down the street together. 

: ' That smash has been coming for a long time," 
said Simms " it's an heirloom. It's a good thing 
it has come ; he was getting to be a by-word. I 
wonder what it is that introduces the humorous 
element into insanity ? that address, for instance, a 
thousand one hundred and one, Walnut Street, could 
never have strayed into a sane person's head." 

" Nor a luncheon on bills of exchange," said 
Cavendish. ' Well, he will be all right at Hoover's. 
What was the dose you gave him ? " 

" Heroin, mostly," replied the other. ' Well, so 
long. I must send Trapson to see him now, on account 
of the certificate." Trapson was another alienist, the 
Law of England holding that a patient must be seen 
separately by two doctors before being interned in an 
asylum. 



CHAPTER VIII 

HOOVER'S 

JONES, after the magic draught administered 
by Simms, entered into a blissful condition 
of twilight sleep half sleep, half drowsiness, 
absolute indifference, broken by a vague vision of 
Trapson. He walked with assistance to the hall 
door, and entered a motor-car ; it did not matter 
to him what he entered or where he went ; he did not 
want to be disturbed. 

He roused himself during a long journey to take a 
drink of something held to his lips by someone, and 
sank back, tucking sleep around him like a warm 
blanket. 

In all his life he had never had such a gorgeous 
sleep as that, his weary and harassed brain revelled 
in moments of semi-consciousness, and then sank 
back into the last abysms of oblivion. 

He awoke a new man, physically and mentally, 
and with an absolutely clear memory and under- 
standing. He awoke in a bedroom a cheerful bed- 
room lit by the morning sun, a bedroom with an 
open window, through which came the songs of birds 
and the whisper of foliage. 

A young man dressed in a black morning-coat was 
seated in an arm-chair by the window, reading a book. 
He looked like a superior sort of servant. 

169 



170 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Jones looked at this young man, who had not yet 
noticed the awakening of the sleeper ; and Jones, as 
he looked at him, put facts together. 

Simms, Cavendish, the fact that he had been doped, 
the place where he was, and the young man. He had 
been taken here in that conveyance, whatever it was ; 
they had thought him mad ; they had carted him off 
to a madhouse, this was a madhouse, that guy in the 
chair was an attendant. He recognized these pro- 
babilities very clearly, but he felt no anger and little 
surprise. His mind, absolutely set up and almost 
renewed by profound slumber, saw everything clearly 
and in a true light. 

It was quite logical that, believing him mad, they 
had put him in a madhouse, and he had no fear at all 
of the result, simply because he knew that he was 
sane. The situation was amusing, it was also one to 
get free from ; but there was plenty of time, and there 
was no room for making mistakes. 

Curiously enough, now, the passionate, or almost 
passionate, desire to recover his own personality had 
vanished, or, at least, was no longer active in his 
mind ; his brain, renewed by that tremendous sleep, 
was no longer tainted by that vague dread, no longer 
troubled by that curious craving to have others 
believe in his story and to have others recognize 
him as Jones. 

No, it did not matter to him just now whether he 
recovered his personality in the eyes of others ; 'what 
did matter to him was the recovery of his bodily 
freedom. Meanwhile, caution. Like Brer Rabbit, he 
determined to " lie low." 

" Say," said Jones. 

The young man by the window started slightly, 
rose, and came to the bedside. 



HOOVER'S 171 

" What o'clock ? " said the patient. 
" It has just gone half-past eight, sir," replied the 
other. " I hope you have slept well." 

Jones noticed that this person did not " my lord " 
him. 

" Not a wink," said he. " Tossed and tumbled all 

night. Oh, say, what do you think " 

The young man looked puzzled. 
" And would you like anything now, sir ? " 
" Yes, my pants. I want to get up." 
" Certainly, sir ; your bath is quite ready," replied 
the other. 

He went to the fireplace and touched an electric 
button, then he bustled about the room getting Jones's 
garments together. 

The bedroom had two doors, one leading to a sitting- 
room, one to a bath-room ; in a minute the bath- 
room door opened and a voice queried, " Hot or 
cold ? " 

" Hot," said Jones. 
" Hot," said the attendant. 

" Hot," said the unseen person in the bath-room, 
as if registering the order in his mind. Then came 
the fizzling of water, and in a couple of minutes the 
voice : 

" Gentleman's bath ready." 

Jones bathed, and though the door of the bath- 
room had been shut upon him, and there was no 
person present, he felt all the time that someone was 
watching him. When he was fully dressed, the 
attendant opened the other door and ushered him 
into the sitting-room, where breakfast was laid on 
a small table by the window. He had the choice 
between eggs and bacon and sausages ; he chose the 
former, and, whilst waiting, and attracted by the 



172 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

pleasant summery sound of croquet balls knocking 
together, he looked out of the window. 

Two gentlemen in white flannels were playing 
croquet, stout, elderly gentlemen they were, and on 
a garden-seat a young man in flannel trousers and a 
grey tweed coat was seated, watching the game and 
smoking cigarettes. 

He guessed these people to be fellow-prisoners. 
They looked happy enough, and, having noticed this 
fact, he sat down to breakfast. 

He noted that the knife accompanying his fork 
was blunt and of very poor quality of the sort 
warranted not to cut throats but he did not heed 
much. He had other things to think of. The men 
in flannels had given him a shock. Instinctively he 
knew them to be " inmates." He had never con- 
sidered the question of lunatics and lunatic asylums 
before. Vague recollections of Edgar Allan Poe 
and the works of Charles Reade had surrounded the 
term lunatic asylum with an atmosphere of feather 
beds and brutality, the word lunatic conjured up in 
his mind the idea of a man obviously insane. The 
fact that this place was a house quite ordinary and 
pleasant in appearance, and these sane-looking gentle- 
men, lunatics, gave him a grue. 

The fact that an apparently sane individual can 
be held as a prisoner was beginning to steal upon him ; 
that a man might be able to play croquet, and laugh 
and talk and take an intelligent interest in life, and yet, 
just because of some illusion, be held as a prisoner. 

He did not fully realize this yet, but it was dawning 
upon him. But he did fully realize that he had lost 
his liberty. 

Before he had finished his eggs and bacon this 
recognition became acute. 



HOOVER'S 173 

The fear of losing his own personality had vanished 
utterly, all that haunting dread was gone. If he could 
escape now, so he told himself, he would go right 
back to the States. He had eight thousand pounds 
in the National Provincial Bank ; no one knew that 
it was there. He could seize it with a clear conscience, 
and take it to Philadelphia. The shadow of Rochester 
oh, that was a thing gone for ever, dissipated by 
this actual fact of lost liberty so he told himself. 

A servant brought up the Times, and he opened it 
and lit a cigarette. 

Then, as he looked casually over the news and the 
doings of the day, an extraordinary feeling came upon 
him. All this printed matter was relative to the 
doings and ideas of free men, men who could walk 
down the street if the fancy pleased them. It was 
like looking at the world through bars. He got up 
and paced the floor ; the breakfast-things had been 
removed, and the attendant had left the room and 
was in the bedroom adjoining. 

Jones walked softly to the door through which the 
servant had carried away the things, and opened it 
gently and without noise. A corridor lay outside, 
and he was just entering it, when a voice from behind 
made him turn : 

" Do you require anything, sir ? " 

It was the attendant. 

" Nothing," said Jones. " I was just looking to 
see where this place led to." 

He came back into the room. 

He knew now that every movement of his was 
watched, and he accepted the fact without comment. 
He sat down and took up the Times, whilst the attend- 
ant went back to the bedroom. 

He had said to himself on awaking that a sane 



174 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

man, held as insane, could always win free just by his 
sanity. He was taking up this line of reasoning now, 
and casting about him for a method. 
|. He was not long in finding one. The brilliancy of 
the idea that had all at once struck him made him cast 
the paper from his knees to the floor. Then, having 
smoked a cigarette and consolidated his plan, he called 
the attendant. 

" I want to see the gentleman who runs this place/' 

" Dr. Hoover, sir ? " 

" Yes." 

" Certainly, sir, I will ring and have him sent for." 

He rang the bell ; a servant answered and went off 
with the message. 

Jones took up the paper again and resumed his 
cigarette. Five minutes passed, and then the door 
opened and a gentleman entered. 

A pleasant-faced, clean-shaven man of fifty, dressed 
in blue serge and with a rose in his button-hole, such 
was Dr. Hoover. But the eye of the man held him 
apart from others a blue-grey eye, keen, sharp, hard, 
for all the smile upon the pleasant face. 
I Jones rose up. 
[ " Dr. Hoover, I think," said he. 

" Good morning," said the other in a hearty voice. 
" Fine day, isn't it ? Well, how are we this morn- 
ing ? " 

" Oh, I'm all right," said Jones. " I want to have 
a little talk with you." 

j He went to the bedroom door, which was slightly 
ajar, and closed it. 

" For your sake," said Jones, "it's just as well we 
have no one listening ; the attendant is in there 
you are sure he cannot hear what we say, even with 
the door shut ? " 



HOOVER'S 175 

" Quite/' said Hoover, with a benign smile. 

He was used to things like this, profoundly con- 
fidential communications concerning claims to crowns 
and principalities or grumbles about food. 

He did not expect what followed. 

" I am not going to grumble at your having me here," 
said Jones ; "it's my fault for playing practical jokes. 
I didn't think they'd go the length of doping me and 
locking me up under the name I gave them." 

" And what name was that ? " asked Hoover 
kindly. 

"^ Jones." 

" Oh, and now tell me, if you are not Mr. Jones, who 
are you ? " 

11 Who am I well, I can excuse the question. I'm 
the Earl of Rochester." 

This was a nasty one for Hoover, but that gentle- 
man's face showed nothing. 

" Indeed," said he ; " then why did you call your- 
self Jones ? " 

" For a joke ; I slung them a yarn, and they took 
it in. Then they gave me a draught to compose my 
nerves ; they thought really that I was dotty, and 
I drank it you must have seen the condition I was 
in when I got here." 

" Hum, hum ! " said Hoover. 

He was used to the extremely cunning ways of 
gentlemen off their balance, and he had a profound 
belief in Simms and Trapson, whose names endorsed 
the certificate of lunacy he had received with the 
newcomer. He was also a man just as cunning as 
Jones. 

:< Well," he said, with an air of absolute frankness, 
" this takes me by surprise a practical joke ; but 
why did you play such a practical joke ? " 



176 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" I know," said Jones, " it was stupid, just a piece 
of tomfoolery ; but you see how I am landed." 

Dr. Hoover ignored this evasion whilst noting it. 

Then he began to ask all sorts of little questions, 
seemingly irrelevant enough. Did Jones think that 
he was morally justified in carrying out such a practical 
joke ? Why did he not say at once it was a practical 
joke, after the affair had reached a certain point ? 
Was his memory as good as of old ? Was he sure in his 
own mind that he was the Earl of Rochester ? Was 
he sure that, as the Earl of Rochester, he could hold 
that title against a claim that he was not the earl ? 
Give details, and so forth ? 

" Now, suppose," said Dr. Hoover, " I were to con- 
test the title with you, and say, ' You are Mr. Jones 
and I am the Earl of Rochester/ how would you estab- 
lish your claim ? I am simply asking to find out 
whether what you consider to be a practical joke was, 
in fact, a slight lapse of memory on your part a 
slight mind disturbance such as is easily caused by 
fatigue or over-work, and which often leaves effects 
lasting some weeks or months. 

" Now, I must point out to you that, as practical 
joke or not you came here calling yourself Mr. Jones, 
I would be justified in asking you for proof that you 
are not Mr. Jones. See my point ? " 

" Quite." 

" Well, then, prove your case," said the physician 
jovially. 

" How can I ? " 

" Well, if you are the Earl of Rochester, let me test 
your memory. Who is your banker ? " 

" Coutts." 

Hoover did not know who the Earl of Rochester's 
banker might be, but the promptness of the reply 



HOOVER'S 177 

satisfied him of its truth, the promptness was also an 
index of sanity. He passed at a venture to a subject 
on which he was acquainted. 

" And how many brothers and sisters have you ? " 

That was fatal. 

Jones's eye fell under the pressure of Hoover's. 

" There is no use in going on with these absurd 
questions," said he, "a thing everyone knows." 

" But I just want to prove to you," said Hoover 
gently, " that your mind, which in a week from now 
will have quite recovered, is still a little bit shaky. 
Now, how long is it since you succeeded to the title 
it's just a test memory question." 

Jones did not know. He saw that he was lost. He 
had also gained an appreciation of Hoover. Beside 
the fat Simms and the cadaverous Cavendish, Hoover 
seemed a man of keen common sense. 

Jones recognized that the new position into which 
he had strayed was a blind alley. If he were detained 
until his memory could answer questions of which his 
mind knew nothing, he would be detained for ever. 
He came to the grand determination to try back. 

" Look here," said he, " let's be straight with one 
another. I can't answer your questions. Now, if 
you are a man of sense, as I take you to be, and not a 
man like those others, who think everyone but them- 
selves is mad, you will recognize why I can't answer 
your questions. I'm not Rochester. I thought I'd 
get out of here by pretending that I'd played a practical 
joke on those guys it was a false move, I acknowledge 
it ; but when I fixed on the idea, I didn't know the 
man I had to deal with. If you will listen to my story, 
I will tell you in a few words how all this business 
came about." 

" Go on," said Hoover. 

12 



178 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Jones told, and Hoover listened, and when the tale 
was over, at the end of a quarter of an hour or so, 
Jones scarcely believed it himself. It sounded crazy. 
Much more crazy than when he had told it to the Duke 
of Melford, and the reason of this difference was Hoover. 
There was something in Hoover's eye, something in his 
make up and personality, something veiled and critical, 
that destroyed confidence. 

" I have asked them to make inquiries," finished 
Jones. " If they will only do that, everything will be 
cleared up." 

" And you may rest content we will," said Hoover. 

" Now for another thing," said Jones. " Till I 
leave this place, which will be soon, I hope, may I ask 
you to tell that confounded attendant not to be always 
watching me. I don't know whether you think me mad 
or sane ; think me mad, if you like, but take it from 
me, I'm not going to do anything foolish, but if any- 
thing would drive me crazy, it would be feeling that I 
am always being watched like a child." 

Hoover paused a moment. He had a large experi- 
ence of mental cases. Then he said : 

' You will be perfectly free here. You can come 
downstairs and do as you like. We have some very 
nice men staying here, and you are free to amuse 
yourself. I'll just ask you this, not to go outside the 
grounds till your health is perfectly established. 
This is not a prison ; it's a sanatorium. Colonel Hawker 
is here for gout, and Major Barstowe for neuritis ; got 
it in India. You will like them. There are several 
others who make up my household you can come on 
down with me now. Are you a billiard-player ? " 

' Yes, I can play ; but, see here, before we go down, 
where is this place ? I don't even know what part of 
the country it's in." 



HOOVER'S 179 

" Sandbourne-on-Sea," replied Hoover, leading the 
way from the room. 



Now, in London on the night before, something had 
happened. Dr. Simms, at a dinner-party given by Dr. 
Took, of Bethlem Hospital, had, relative to the 
imagination of lunatics, given an instance : 

" Only to-day," said Simms, " I had a case in point. 
A man gave me as his supposed address one thousand 
one hundred and one, Walnut Street, Philadelphia/' 

" But there is a Walnut Street, Philadelphia," said 
Took, " and it's ten miles long, and the numbers run 
up well towards that." 

Half an hour later, Simms got into his carriage. 

" Savoy Hotel, Strand," said he to the coachman. 



CHAPTER IX 

AN INTERLUDE 

SIMMS, in his electric brougham, passed through 
the gas-lit streets in the direction of the Strand, 
glancing at the night pageant of London, but seeing 
nothing. 

I love to linger over Simms, but what pages of 
description could adequately describe him ? buxom, 
sedate, plump and soothing, with the appearance 
of having been born and bred in a frock-coat, above all 
things discreet. You can fancy him stepping out of 
his brougham, passing into the hall of the hotel and 
presenting his card to the clerk, with a request for an 
interview with the manager. The manager being 
away, his deputy supplied his place. 

' Yes, an American gentleman of the name of Jones 
had stayed in the hotel, and on the night of the first of 
June had met with " an accident " on the Underground 
Railway. The police had taken charge of the business. 
What address had he given when booking his room ? An 
address in Philadelphia. Walnut Street, Philadelphia." 
" Thanks," said Simms. " I came to inquire because 
a patient of mine fancied, seeing the report, that it 
might be a relative. She must have been mistaken, 
for her relative resides in the city of New York. Thank 
you quite so good evening." 

In the hall Simms hesitated for a moment, then he 
asked a page-boy for the American bar, found it, and 
ordered a glass of soda-water. 

180 



AN INTERLUDE 181 

There were only one or two men in the bar, and, as 
Simms paid for his drink, he had a word with the 
bar-tender. 

" Did he remember some days ago seeing two gentle- 
men in the bar who were very much alike ? " 

The bar-tender did, and as an indication how in 
huge hotels dramatic happenings may pass unknown 
to the staff not immediately concerned, he had never 
connected Jones with the American gentleman of whose 
unhappy demise he had read in the papers. 

He was quite free in his talk. The likeness had 
struck him forcibly, never seen two gentlemen so like 
one another, dressed differently, but still like. His 
assistant had seen them, too. 

" Quite so," said Simms, " they are friends of mine, 
and I hoped to see them again here this evening 
perhaps they are waiting in the lounge." 

He finished his soda-water and walked off. He 
sought the telephone ofhce and rang up Curzon Street. 
The Duke of Melford had dined at home, but had 
gone out. He was at the Buffs' Club in Piccadilly. 
Simms drove to the Club. 
The Duke was in the library. 

His Grace had literary leanings. His " History of 
the Siege of Bundlecund," of which seven hundred 
copies of the first edition remained unsold, had not 
deterred him from attempting the " Siege of Jut jut- 
pore." He wrote a good deal in the library of the club, 
and to-night he was in the act of taking down some 
notes on the character of Fooze Ali, the leader of the 
besiegers, when Simms was announced. 

The library was deserted by all save the historian, 
and getting together into a cosy corner, the two men 
talked. 

" Your Grace," said Simms, " we have made a 



182 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

mistake. Your nephew is dead, and that man we have 
placed with Dr. Hoover is what he announced himself 
to be." 

" What ! What ! What ! " cried the duke. 

" There can be no doubt at all," said Simms. " I 
have made inquiries." 

He gave details. The duke listened, his narrow 
brain incensed at this monstrous statement that had 
suddenly risen up to confront it. 

" I don't believe a word of it ! " said he, when the 
recital was over, " and what's more, I won't believe 
it ! Do you mean to tell me I don't know my own 
nephew ? " 

" It's not a question of that," said Simms. " It's 
just a question of the facts of the case. There is no 
doubt at all that a man exactly like the late your 
nephew, in fact, stayed at this hotel, that he there met 
the your nephew. There is no doubt that this man 
gave the address to the hotel people he gave to us, 
and there is no doubt in my mind that he could make 
out a very good case if he were free. That there 
would be a very great scandal a world scandal. Even 
if he were not to prove his case the character of your 
nephew would be held up for inspection. Then 
again, he would have very powerful backers. Now 
you told me of this man Mulhausen. How would 
that property stand were this man to prove his claim, 
and prove that Lord Rochester was dead when the 
transfer of the property was to be made to him ? 
I am not thinking of my reputation," finished the in- 
genuous Simms, " but of your interests, and I tell you 
quite plainly, your Grace, that were this man to escape 
we would all be in a very unpleasant predicament." 

" Well, he won't escape," said the duke. " I'll 
see to that." 



AN INTERLUDE 183 

" Quite so, but there is another matter. The Com- 
missioners in Lunacy." 

" Well, what about them ? " 

"'It is the habit of the Commissioners to visit every 
establishment registered under the Act, and unfortu- 
nately, they are men I mean, of course, that, fortu- 
nately, they are men of the most absolute probity, 
but given to overriding sometimes the considered 
opinion of those in close touch with the cases they are 
brought in contact with. They would undoubtedly 
make strict inquiries into the truth of the story that 
Lord Rochester has just put up, and the result I can 
quite see it would drift us into one of those exposes, 
those painful and interminable lawsuits, destructive 
alike to property, to dignity, and that ease of mind 
inseparable from health and the enjoyment of those 
positions to which my labours and your Grace's lineage 
entitle us." 

" Damn the Commissioners ! " suddenly broke out 
his Grace. " Do you mean to say they would doubt 
my word ? " 

" Unfortunately, it is not a question of that," said 
Simms. " It is a question of what they call the liberty 
of the subject." 

" Damn the liberty of the subject liberty of the 
subject ! When a man's mad, what right has he to 
liberty liberty to cut people's throats, maybe ? 
Look at that fool Arthur liberty 1 Look at the use 
he made of his liberty when he had it. Look what he 
did to Llangwathby sent a telegram leading him to 
believe that his wife had broken out again you know 
how she drinks and had been gaoled in Carlisle. 
And the thing was so artfully constructed. It said 
almost nothing. You couldn't touch him on it. 
Simply said, ' Go at once to police court Carlisle.' 



184 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

See the art of it ? Never mentioned the woman's 
name. There was no libel. Llangwathby, to prose- 
cute, would have to explain all about his wife. He 
went. What happened ? You know his temper. 
He went to Llangwathby Castle before going to the 
police court, and the first person he saw was his wife. 
Before all the servants ! Before all the servants, 
mind you, he said to her, ' So they have let you out 
of prison and now you'd better get out of my house ! ' 
You know her temper. Before all the servants ! 
Before all the servants, mind you, she accused him of 
that disgraceful affair in Pont Street, when he was 
turned out in his pyjamas and they half ripped off 
him, by Lord Tango's brother. Tango never knew 
anything of it. Never would, but he knows now, for 
Lucy Jerningham was at Llangwathby when the 
scene occurred, and she's told him. The result is poor 
Llangwathby will find himself in the D. C. Liberty, 
what right has a man like that to talk of liberty ? " 

" Quite so," said Simms, utterly despairing of 
pressing home the truth of the horrible situation upon 
this brain in blinkers. " Quite so. But facts are facts, 
and the fact remains that this man I mean er 
Lord Rochester, possesses, on your own showing, great 
craft and subtlety. And he will use that with the 
Commissioners in Lunacy when they call." 

" When do they call ? " 

" Ah, that's just it. They visit asylums and regis- 
tered houses at their own will, and the element of 
surprise is one of their methods. They may arrive 
at Hoover's any time. I say, literally, any time. 
Sometimes they arrive at a house in the middle of the 
night, they may leave an asylum un visited for a month 
and then come twice in one week, and they hold every- 
one concerned, literally, in the hollows of their hands. 



AN INTERLUDE 185 

If denied admittance they would not hesitate to break 
the doors down. Their power is absolute." 

" But, good God, sir ! " cried the duke, " what you 
tell me is monstrous ! It's un-English. Break into 
a man's house, spy upon him in the middle of the 
night ! Why, such powers vested in a body of men 
make for terrorization. This must be seen to. I will 
speak about it in the House." 

" Quite so, but, meanwhile, there is the danger, 
and it must be faced." 

" I'll take him away from Hoover's." 

" Ah ! " said Simms. 

" I'll put him somewhere where these fellows won't 
be able to interfere. How about my place at Skibo ? " 

Simms shook his head. 

"He is under a certificate," said he. " The Com- 
missioners call at Hoover's, inspect the books, find that 
Lord Rochester has been there, find him gone, find you 
have taken him away. They will simply call upon 
you to produce him." 

" How about my yacht ? " asked the other. 

" A long sea voyage for his health ? " 

" Ah ! " said Simms, " that's better ; but voyages 
come to an end." 

" How about my villa at Naples ? Properly looked 
after there, he will be safe enough." 

" Of course," said Simms, " that will mean he will 
always have to be there always." 

" Of course, always. D'you think now I have got 
him in safety I will let him out ? " 

Simms sighed. The business was drifting into very 
dangerous waters. He knew for a matter of fact, and 
also by intuition, that Jones was Jones, and that 
Rochester was dead, and his unfortunate position was 
like this : 



186 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

1. If Jones escaped from Hoover's unsoothed and 
furious, he might find his way to the American consul, 
or, horror I to some newspaper office. Then the band 
would begin to play. 

2. If Jones were transferred on board the duke's 
yacht and sequestrated, the matter at once became 
criminal, and the prospect of long years of mental 
distress and dread lest the agile Jones should break free 
stood before him like a nightmare. 

3. It was impossible to make the duke believe that 
Jones was Jones, and that Rochester was dead. 

The only thing to be done was to release Jones, 
soothe him, bribe him and implore of him to get back 
to America as quick as possible. 

This being clear before the mind of Simms, he at 
once proceeded to act. 

"It is not so much the question of your letting 
him out," said he, "as of his escaping. And now I 
must say this. My professional reputation is at stake, 
and I must ask you to come with me to Curzon Street 
and put the whole matter before the family. I wish 
to have a full consultation." 

The duke demurred for a moment. Then he agreed, 
and the two men left the club. 

At Curzon Street they found the Dowager Countess 
and Venetia Birdbrook about to retire for the night. 
Teresa, Countess of Rochester, had already retired, and, 
though invited to the conference, refused to leave her 
room. 

Then in the drawing-room with closed doors, Simms, 
relying on the intelligence of the women as a support, 
began, for the second time, his tale. 

He convinced the women, and by one o'clock in the 
morning, still standing by his guns after the fashion 
of the defenders of Bundlecund, the duke had to confess 



AN INTERLUDE 187 

that he had no more ammunition. Surrendered, in 
fact. 

" But what .is to be done ? " asked the distracted 
mother of the defunct. " What will this terrible man 
do if we release him ? " 

" Do ? " shouted the duke. " Do ? why the im- 
postor may well ask what will we do to him ! " 

" We can do nothing," said Venetia. " How can 
we ? How can we expose all this before the servants 
and the public ? It is all entirely Teresa's fault. If 
she had treated Arthur properly none of this would 
ever have happened. She laughed and made light of 
his wickedness, she " 

" Quite so," said Simms, " but, my dear lady, what 
we have to think of now is the man Jones. We must 
remember that whilst being an extremely astute per- 
son, inasmuch as he recovered for you that large pro- 
perty from the man Mulhausen, he seems honest. 
Indeed, yes, it is quite evident that he is honest. I 
would suggest his release to-morrow and the tendering 
to him of an adequate sum, say, one thousand pounds, 
on the condition that he retires to the States. Then, 
later, we can think of some means to account for the 
demise of the late Earl of Rochester, or simply leave it 
that he has disappeared." 

The rest of this weird conclave remains unreported, 
Simms, however, carrying his point and departing 
next day, after having seen his patients, for Sand- 
bourne-on-Sea, where he arrived late in the afternoon. 
When the hired fly that carried him from Sand- 
bourne Station arrived at the Hoover establishment, 
it found the gate wide open, and at the gate one of the 
attendants standing in an expectant attitude, glancing 
up and down the road, as though he were looking for 
something, or waiting for somebody. 



CHAPTER X 

SMITHERS 

HOOVER, leading the way downstairs, showed 
Jones the billiard-room on the first floor, the 
dining-room, the smoke-room. All pleasant places, 
with windows opening on the gardens. Then he intro- 
duced him to some gentlemen. To Colonel Hawker, 
just come in from an after-breakfast game of croquet ; 
to Major Barstowe ; and to a young man, with no chin 
to speak of, named Smithers. There were several 
others, very quiet people ; the three mentioned are 
enough for consideration. 

Colonel Hawker and Major Barstowe were having 
an argument in the smoking-room when Hoover and 
Jones entered. 

" I did not say I did not believe you," said Bar- 
stowe. " I said it was strange." 

" Strange ! " cried the colonel, " What do you 
mean by strange ? It's not the word I object to, it's 
the tone you spoke in." 

" What's the dispute ? " asked Hoover. 

" Why," said Barstowe, " the colonel was telling 
me he had seen pigs in Burmah sixteen feet long and 
sunflowers twenty feet in diameter." 

" Oh, that story," said Hoover. " Yes, there's 
nothing strange in that." 

188 



SMITHERS 189 

"I'll knock any man down that doubts my word ! " 
said the colonel. " That's flat." 

Hoover laughed ; Jones shivered. 

Then the disputants went out to play another game 
of croquet, and Jones, picking up with Smithers, 
played a game of billiards, Hoover going off and leaving 
them alone. 

After playing for about five minutes, Smithers, who 
had maintained an uncanny silence, broke off the game. 

" Let's play something better than this," said he. 
" Did you know I was rich ? " 

" No," said Jones. 

" Well, I'm very rich. Look here." He took nine 
sovereigns from his pocket and showed them with pride. 
" I play pitch and toss with these," said he. " Hoover 
doesn't mind so long as I don't lose them. Pitch and 
toss with sovereigns is fine fun ; let's have a game." 

Jones agreed. 

They sat on the divan and played pitch and toss. 
At the end of ten minutes Jones had won twenty 
pounds. 

" I think I will stop now," said Smithers. " Give 
me back that sovereign I lent you to toss with." 

" But you owe me twenty pounds," said Jones. 

" I'll pay you that to-morrow," said Smithers. 
' These sovereigns are not to be spent ; they are only 
for playing with." 

" Oh, that doesn't matter," said Jones, handing 
back the coin, and recognizing that, penniless as he 
was, here was a small fund to be drawn upon by cun- 
ning, should he find a means of escape. " I'm rich. 
I'm worth ten millions." 

' Ten million sovereigns ? " 

" Yes." 

" Golden ones, like these ? ' 



190 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Yes." 

" I say," said Smithers, " could you lend me one 
or two ? " 

" Yes, rather." 

" But you mustn't tell Hoover." 

" Of course I won't." 

" When will you lend me them ? " 

' When I get my bag of sovereigns from London. 
They are coming down soon." 

" I like you," said Smithers. " We'll be great 
friends, won't we ? " 

" Rather. Come out in the garden." 

They went out. 

The garden encircled the house ; big wrought iron 
gates, locked, gave upon the road. 

The tennis and croquet lawns lay at the back of 
the house ; brick walls, covered in part with fruit- 
trees, surrounded the whole place. The wall on the 
left of the house struck Jones as being practicable, 
and he noticed that none of the walls were spiked or 
glassed. Hoover's patients were evidently not of 
the dangerous and agile type. 

" What's at the other side of this wall ? " asked 
Jones, as they passed on by the left-hand barrier. 

Smithers giggled. 

" Girls," said he. 

" Girls ! What sort of girls ? " 

" Little ones with long hair, and bigger ones. They 
learn their lessons there ; it's a school. The gardener 
left his ladder there one day, and I climbed up. There 
was a lot of girls there. I nodded to , them, and they 
all came to the wall. I made them all laugh. I 
asked them to come over the wall and toss for 
sovereigns then a lady came and told me to go away. 
She didn't seem to like me." 



SMITH ERS 191 

Jones, all during luncheon the meal was served 
in his own apartments revolved things in his mind, 
Smithers amongst others. Smither's mania for hand- 
ling gold had evidently been satisfied by giving him 
these few coins to play with. They were real ones ; 
Jones had satisfied himself of that. Smithers, despite 
his want of chin, was evidently not a person to be put 
off with counterfeit coins. Jones had come down 
from London dressed just as he had called at Curzon 
Street. That is to say, in a black morning coat and 
grey trousers. His tall hat had evidently been for- 
gotten by his deporters. After luncheon he asked for 
a cap to wear in the garden, and was supplied with a 
grey tweed shooting-cap of Hoover's. 

With this on his head he took his seat in an arbour, 
an arbour which, he noticed, had its opening facing the 
house. 

Here, smoking, he continued revolving his plans, 
and here afternoon tea was served to him. 

Ten minutes later the colonel and the major began 
another game of croquet, and five minutes after that 
came from the house Smithers, with a butterfly-net 
in his hand. 

Jones left the arbour and joined Smithers. 

11 The sovereigns have come/' said Jones. 
' The bag of sovereigns ? " 

' Yes ; with a big red seal from the bankers. I'm 
going to give you fifty." 

"Oh, lord!" said Smithers. "But you haven't 
said anything to Hoover ? " 

" Not a word. But you must do something for me 
before I give you them." 
' What's that ? " 

" I want you to go up to Colonel Hawker, and take 
him aside." 



192 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Yes ? " 

" And tell him that Major Barstowe says he's a 
liar." 

" Yes ? " 

" That's all." 

" That's easy enough," said Smithers. 

" I'll stand by the wall here, and if any of the girls 
look over, as they probably will, for I'm going to 
whistle to them, I'll make them come over and toss 
for sovereigns." 

" That would be a lark," said the unfortunate. 

" Bother," said Jones, " I've forgot ! " 

" What ? " 

" All my sovereigns are upstairs in the bag. I 
know ; lend me yours whilst I'm waiting." 

" I I never lend sovereigns," said Smithers. 

" Why ? I'm going to give you fifty, and I only 
ask you to lend me yours for a moment, in case those 
girls- 

Smithers put his hand in his pocket and produced 
the coins ; they were in a little chamois leather bag. 

" Don't open the bag," said he, " just shake it, and 
they'll know there are sovereigns in it by the noise." 

" Right ! " said Jones. " Now go and tell Colonel 
Hawker that Major Barstowe says he's a liar." 

Smithers went off, butterfly-net in hand. 

Jones was under no delusion. He reckoned that 
the garden was always under surveillance, and that a 
man getting over a wall would have little chance of 
reaching the street unless he managed to distract the 
attention of watchers. He thought it probable that 
his conversation with Smithers had been seen, and 
possibly the handing over of some article noted. 

There was a seat just here, close to the wall. He 
sat down on it, pulled his cap over his eyes, and 



SMITHERS 198 

stretched out his legs. Then, under the peak of the 
cap, he watched Smithers approach Colonel Hawker, 
interrupt him just as he was on the point of making a 
stroke, and lead him aside. 

The effect on the colonel's mind of the interruption 
to his stroke, followed by the sudden information that 
his veracity had been impeached, was miraculous and 
sudden as the slap on the side of the face that sent the 
butterfly-hunter flying. The attack on Barstowe, 
who seemed to fight well, the cries, the shouts, the 
imprecations, the fact that half a dozen people, in- 
mates and attendants, joined in the confusion as if by 
magic, all this was nothing to Jones, nor was the 
subsidiary fact that one of the inmates, a quiet-man- 
nered clergyman with a taste for arson, had taken 
advantage of the confusion, and was patiently and sedu- 
lously at work firing the thatch of the summer-house 
in six different places with a long-concealed box of 
matches. 

Jones, on the stroke of the colonel, had risen from 
the seat, and, with the aid of a well-trained plum-tree, 
had reached the top of the wall and dropped on the 
other side into a bed of mignonette. It was a hockey 
day at the school, and there were no girls in the 
garden. He ran across it to the open front gate and 
reached the road, ran down the road, which was 
deserted and burning in the late afternoon sunshine, 
reached a side road and slackened his pace. All the 
roads were of the same pattern, broad, respectable, 
and lined with detached and semi-detached houses set 
in gardens, and labelled according to the owner's 
fancy. Old Anglo- Indian colonels and majors lived 
here, and one knew their houses by such names as 
" Lucknow," " Cawnpore," etc., just as one knows 
azaleas by their blossoms. Jones, like an animal 

13 



194 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

making for cover, pushed on till he reached a street 
of shops. A long, long street, running north and south, 
with the shop fronts on the eastern side, sun-blinded 
and sunlit. A peep of blue and perfect sea showed at 
the end of the street, and on the sea the white sail of 
a boat. Sandbourne-on-Sea is a pleasant place to 
stay at, but Jones did not want to stay there. 

His mind was working feverishly. There was sure 
to be a railway station somewhere, and, as surely, the 
railway station would be the first place they would 
hunt for him. 

London was his objective. London and the National 
Provincial Bank, but of the direction or the distance to 
be travelled he knew no more than the man in the 
moon. 



CHAPTER XI 

HE RUNS TO EARTK 

AS the fox seeks an earth he was seeking for a 
hole to hide in. Across the road a narrow 
house, set between a fishmonger's shop and a seaside 
library, displayed in one of its lower windows a card 
with the word " Apartments." Jones crossed the 
road to this house and knocked at the hall door. He 
waited a minute and a half, ninety seconds, and every 
second a framed vision of Hoover in pursuit, Hoover 
and his assistants streaming |like hounds on a hot 
scent. Then he found a decrepit bell and pulled it. 

Almost on the pull the door opened, disclosing a 
bustless, sharp-eyed and cheerful-looking little woman 
of fifty or so, wearing a cameo brooch and cornelian 
rings. She wore other things, but you did not notice 
them. 

" Have you rooms to let ? " asked Jones. 

" Well, sir, I have the front parlour unoccupied," 
replied the landlady, " and two bedrooms on the top 
floor. Are there any children ? " 

" No," said Jones. " I came down here alone for 
a holiday. May I see the rooms ? " 

She took him to the top front bedroom first. It 
was clean and tidy, just like herself, and gave a cheery 

195 13* 



196 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

view of the shop fronts on the opposite side of the 
street. 

Jones, looking out of the window, saw something 
that held him for a moment fascinated and forgetful 
of his surroundings and his companion. Hoover, no 
less, walking hurriedly and accompanied by a man who 
looked like a gardener. They were passing towards 
the sea, looking about them as they went. Hoover 
had the appearance of a person who has lost a purse 
or some article of value, so Jones thought as he watched 
them vanish. He turned to the landlady. 

" I like this room," said he, " it is cheerful and quiet, 
just the sort of place I want. Now let's see the 
parlour." 

The parlour boasted of a horsehair sofa, chairs to 
match, pictures to match, and a glass-fronted book- 
case containing volumes of the " Sunday Companion," 
" Sword and Trowel," " Home Influence," and Ouida's 
" Moths " in the old, yellow-back, two-shilling edition. 

" Very nice indeed," said Jones. " What do you 
charge ? " 

" Well, sir," said the landlady her name was 
Henshaw " it's a pound a week for the two rooms 
without board, two pounds with." 

" Any extras ? " asked the artful Jones. 

" No, sir." 

" Well, that will do me nicely. I came along here 
right from the station, and my portmanteau hasn't 
arrived, though it was labelled for here, and the porter 
told me he had put it on the train. I'll have to go up 
to the station this evening again to see if it has arrived. 
Meanwhile, seeing I haven't my luggage with me, I'll 
pay you in advance." 

She assured him that this was unnecessary, but he 
insisted. 



HE RUNS TO EARTH 197 

When she had received the money she asked him 
What he would have for supper, or would he prefer 
late dinner ? 

" Supper," replied Jones, " oh, anything. I'm not 
particular." 

Then he found himself alone. He sat down on the 
horsehair sofa to think. Would Hoover circularize 
his description and offer a reward ? No, that was 
highly improbable. Hoover's was a high-class estab- 
lishment, he would avoid publicity as much as possible, 
but he would be pretty sure to use the intelligence, such 
as it was, of the police, telling them to act with caution. 

Would he make inquiries at all the lodging-houses ? 
That was a doubtful point. Jones tried to fancy him- 
self in Hoover's position and failed. 

One thing certainly Hoover would do. Have all 
the exits from Sandbourne-on-Sea watched. That 
was the logical thing to do, and Hoover was a logical 
man. 

There was nothing to do but give the hunt time to 
cool off, and at this thought the prospect of days of 
lurking in this room of right angles and horsehair- 
covered furniture, rose up before him like a black billow. 
Then came the almost comforting thought, he could 
not lurk without creating suspicion on the part of Mrs. 
Henshaw. He would have to get out, somehow. The 
weather was glorious, and the strip of seaweed hanging 
by the mantelpiece dry as tinder. A sea-side visitor 
who sat all day in his room in the face of such weather, 
would create a most unhealthy interest in the mind of 
any sea-side landlady. No, whatever else he might 
do he could not lurk. 

The most terrible things in dramatic situations are 
the little things that speak to one for once in their 
lives. The pattern of the carpet that tells you that 



198 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

there is no doubt of the fact that your wife has run away 
with all your money, and left you with seven children 
to look after ; the form of the chair that tells you that 
Justice with a noose in her hand is waiting on the front 
door step. Jones, just now, was under the obsession 
of the picture of the room, whose place was above the 
mantelpiece. 

It was an oleograph of a gentleman in uniform, 
probably the Prince Consort, correct, sane, urbane 
a terrible companion for a man in an insane situation ; 
for insanity is not confined to the brain of man or its 
productions though heaven knows she has a fine 
field of movement in both. 

A thundering rat-tat-tat at the hall door brought 
Jones to his feet. He heard the door answered, a 
voice outside saying " N'k you," and the door shut. 
It was some parcel left in. Then he heard Mrs. Hen- 
shaw descending the kitchen stairs and all was quiet. 
He turned to the bookcase, opened it, inspected the 
contents, and chose " Moths/' 



CHAPTER XII 

" MOTHS " 

IN ill-health or convalescence, or worry or tribu- 
lation, the ordinary mind does not turn to Milton 
or Shakespeare, or even the sermons of Charles Haddon 
Spurgeon. There are few classics that will stand the 
test of a cold in the head, or a fit of depression, or a 
worrying husband, or a minor tragedy. Here the 
writer of " light fiction " stands firm. 

Jones had never been a great reader ; he had read a 
cheap novel or two, but his browsings in the literary 
fields had been mainly confined to the uplands where 
the grass is improving. 

Colour, poetry, and construction in fiction were 
unknown to him, and now he suddenly found himself 
on the beach at Trouville. 

On the beach at Trouville, with Lady Dolly skipping 
before him in the sea. 

He had reached the forced engagement of the beau- 
tiful heroine to the wicked Russian Prince, when the 
door opened and the supper tray entered, followed by 
Mrs. Henshaw. Left to honour and her own initiative, 
she had produced a huge lobster, followed by cheese, 
and three little dull-looking jam-tarts on a willow- 
pattern plate. 

When Jones had ruined the lobster and devoured the 

199 



200 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

tarts he went on with the book. The lovely heroine 
had become for him Teresa, Countess of Rochester; 
the opera singer himself, and the Russian Prince 
ManilofL 

Then the deepening dusk tore him from the book. 
Work had to be done. 

He rang the bell, told Mrs. Henshaw that he was 
going to the railway station to see after his luggage, 
took his cap, and went out. Strangely enough, he 
did not feel nervous. The first flurry had passed, 
and he had adapted himself to the situation ; the 
deepening darkness gave him a sense of security, and 
the lights of the shops cheered him somehow. 

He turned to the left towards the sea. 

Fifty yards down the street he came across a gentle- 
men's outfitter's, in whose windows coloured neckties 
screamed, and fancy shirts raised their discordant 
voices with gents' summer waistcoats and those 
panama hats, adored in the year of this story by the 
river and sea-side youth. 

Jones, under the hands of Rochester's valet, and 
forced by circumstances to use Rochester's clothes, 
was one of the best-dressed men in London. Left to 
himself in this matter he was lost. He had no idea of 
what to wear, or what not to wear, no idea of the social 
damnation that lies in tweed trousers not turned up 
at the bottom, fancy waistcoats, made evening ties, 
a bowler worn with a black morning coat, or dog-skin 
gloves. Heinenberg and Obermann of Philadelphia 
had dressed him till Stultz unconsciously took the 
business over. He was barely conscious of the in- 
congruity of his present get-up topped by the tweed 
shooting-cap of Hoover's, but he was quite conscious 
of the fact that some alteration in dress was imperative 
as a means towards escape from Sandbourne-on-Sea. 



" MOTHS " 201 

He entered the shop of Towler and Simpkinson, 
bought a six-and-elevenpenny panama, put it on and 
had the tweed cap done up in a parcel. Then a flannel 
coat attracted him. A grey flannel tennis coat, price 
fifteen shillings. It fitted him to a charm, save for 
the almost negligible fact that the sleeves came down 
nearly to his knuckles. Then he bought a night- 
shirt for three-and-eleven, and had the whole lot done 
up in one parcel. 

At a chemist's next door he bought a tooth-brush. 
In the mirror across the counter he caught a glimpse 
of himself in the panama. It seemed to him that not 
only had he never looked so well in any other head- 
gear, but that his appearance was completely altered. 

Charmed and comforted, he left the shop. Next 
door to the chemist's and at the street corner was a 
public-house. 

Jones felt certain from his knowledge of Hoover, 
that the very last place to come across one of his 
assistants would be a public-house. He entered the 
public bar, took a seat by the counter, and ordered a 
glass of beer and a packet of cigarettes. The place 
was rank with the fumes of cheap tobacco and 
cigarettes, and the smell of beer. Hard gas light 
showed no adornment, nothing but pitch pine 
panelling, spittoons, bottles on shelves and an 
almanac. The barmaid, a long-necked girl with red 
hands, and cheap rings and a rose in her belt, detached 
herself from earnest conversation with a youth in a 
bowler inhabiting the saloon bar, pulled a handle, 
dumped a glass of beer before Jones and gave him 
change without word or glance, returning to her 
conversation with the bowlered youth. She evidently 
had no eyes at all for people in the public bar. There 
are grades, even in the tavern. 



202 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Close to where Jones had taken his seat was standing 
a person in broken shoes, an old straw hat, a coat 
with parcels evidently in the tail pockets, and trousers 
frayed at the heels. He had a red, unshaven face, 
and was reading the Evening News. 

Suddenly he banged the paper with the tips of the 
fingers of his right hand and cast it on the counter. 

" Govinment I Govinment ! nice sort of govin- 
ment, payin' each other four hundred a year for 
followin' Asquith and robbin' the landowners to get 
the money God lumme ! " 

He paused to light a filthy clay pipe. He had his 
eyes on Jones, and evidently considered him, for some 
occult reason, of the same way of political thinking 
as himself, and he addressed him in that impersonal 
way in which one addresses an audience. 

" They've downed and outed the House o' Lords, 
an' now they're scraggin' the Welsh Church, after 
that they'll go for the landed prepriotor and finish 
him. And who's to blame ? The Radicals no, they 
ain't to blame, no more than rats for their instincts ; 
we're to blame, the Conservatives is to blame ; we 
haven't got a fightin' man to purtect us. The Radicals 
has got all the tallant you look at the fight Bonna 
Lor's been makin' this week. Fight 1 A blind torn 
cat with his head in an old t'marter tin would make 
a better fight than Bonna Lor's put up. Look at 
Churchill, that chap was one of us once ; he was born 
to lead the clarses, an' now look at him leadin' the 
marses, up to his neck in Radical dirt, and pretendin' 
he likes it. He doesn't, but he's a man with an 
eye in his head, and he knows what we are, a boneless 
lot without organization. I say it myself, I said it 
only larst night in this here bar, and I say it again, 
for two pins I'd chuck my party. I would so. For 



" MOTHS " 208 

two pins I'd chuck the country, and leave the whole 
lot to stew in their own grease." 

He addressed himself to his beer, and Jones, greatly 
marvelling, lit a cigarette. 

" Do you live here ? " asked he. 

"Sh'd think I did/' replied the other. "Born 
here and bred here, and been watchin' the place 
going down for the last twenty years, turnin' from a 
decent residential neighbourhood to a collection of 
schools and lodgin' houses, losin' clarse every year. 
Why, the biggest house here is owned by a chap that 
sells patent food ; there's two socialists on the town 
council, and the Mayor last year was Hoover, a chap 
that owns a lunatic 'sylum. One of his loonies 
got out last March and near did for a child on the 
Southgate Road before he was collared ; and yet 
they make a Mayor of him!" 

" Have another drink ? " said Jones. 

" I don't mind if I do." 

" Well, here's luck," said he, putting his nose into 
the new glass. 

"Luck ! " said Jones. " Do Hoover's lunatics 
often escape ? " 

" Escape why I heard only an hour ago another 
of them was out. Gawd help him if the town folk 
catch him at any of his tricks, and Gawd help Hoover. 
A chap has no right comin' down and settin' up a 
business like that in a place like this, full of nurse- 
maids and children. People bring their innercent 
children down here to play on the sands, and any 
minit that place may break loose like a bum-shell. 
That's not marked down on the prospectices they 
publish with pictures done in blue and yaller, and lies 
about the air and water, and the salubriarity of the 
South coast." 



204 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" No, I suppose not," said Jones. 

" Well, I must be goinY' said the other, emptying 
his glass, and wiping his mouth on the back of his 
hand. " Good night to you." 

" Good night." 

The upholder of Church and State shuffled out, 
leaving Jones to his thoughts. Wind of the business 
had got about the town, and even at that moment, 
no doubt, people were carefully locking back doors, 
and looking in out-houses. 

It was unfortunate that the last man to escape 
from the Hoover establishment had been violently 
inclined ; that was the one thing needed to stimulate 
Rumour and make her spread. 

Having sat for ten minutes longer and consumed 
another glass of tepid beer, he took his departure. 

Mrs. Henshaw let him in, and having informed her 
of his journey to the station, the fruitlessness of his 
quest, and his opinion of the railway company, its 
servants and its methods, he received his candle and 
went to bed. 



CHAPTER XIII 

A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS 

HE was awakened by a glorious morning, and, 
looking out of his window, he saw the street 
astir in the sunshine, stout men in white flannels with 
morning newspapers in their hands, children already 
on their way to the beach with spades and buckets, 
all the morning life of an English sea-coast town in 
summer. 

Then he dressed. He had no razor, his beard was 
beginning to show, and to go about unshaved was 
impossible to his nature. For a moment the wild 
idea of letting his beard grow that oldest form of 
disguise occurred to him, only to be dismissed 
immediately. A beard takes a month to grow; he 
had neither the time nor the money to do it, nor the 
inclination. 

At breakfast two kippered herrings and marma- 
lade he held a council of war with himself. 

Nature has equipped every animal with means for 
offence and defence. To man she has given daring, 
and that strange indifference in cool blood to danger, 
when danger has become familiar, which seems the 
attribute of man alone. 

Jones determined to risk everything, go out, 
205 



206 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

prospect, find some likely road of escape, and make 
a bold dash. The eight thousand pounds in the 
London Bank shone before him like a galaxy of eight 
stars ; no one knew of its existence. What he was 
to do when he had secured it was a matter for future 
consideration. Probably he would return right away 
to the States. 

One great thing about all this Hoover business 
was the fact that it had freed him from the haunting 
dread of those terrible sensations of duality and 
negation. Fighting is the finest antidote to nerve 
troubles and mental dreads, and he was fighting now 
for his liberty, for the fact stood clearly before him 
that, whether the Rochester family believed him to 
be Rochester or believed him to be Jones, it was to 
their interest to hold him as a lunatic in peaceful 
retirement. 

Having breakfasted, he lit a cigarette, asked Mrs. 
Henshaw for a latch-key so that he might not trouble 
her, put on his panama and went out. There was a 
barber's shop across the way ; he entered it, found a 
vacant chair, and was shaved. Then he bought a 
newspaper, and strolled in the direction of the beach. 
The idea had come to him that he might be able to hire 
a sailing boat and reach London that way ; a pre- 
posterous and vague idea that still, however, led him 
till he reached the esplanade, and stood with the sea 
wind blowing in his face. 

The only sailing boats visible were excursion craft, 
guarded by longshoremen, loading up with trippers, 
and showing placards to allure the innocent. 

The sands were swarming, andfthe bathing machines 
crawling towards the sea. 

He came on to the beach and took his seat on the 
warm, white sands with freedom before him had he 



A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS 207 

been a gull or a fish. To take one of those cockle- 
shell row boats and scull a few miles down the coast 
would lead him where ? Only along the coast, rock- 
strewn beyond the sands and faced with cliffs. Of 
boat craft he had no knowledge, the sea was choppy, 
and the sailing boats now out seemed going like race 
horses over hurdles. 

No, he would wait till after luncheon, then in that 
somnolent hour, when all men's thoughts are a bit 
dulled, and vigilance least awake, he would find some 
road, on good, hard land, and make his dash. 

He would try and get a bicycle map of this part 
of Wessex. He had noticed a big stationer's and 
bookseller's near the beach, and he would call there 
on his way back. 

Then he fell to reading his paper, smoking cigarettes, 
and watching the crowd. 

Watching, he was presently rewarded with the sight 
of the present day disgrace of England. Out of a 
bathing tent, and into the full sunlight, came a girl 
with nothing on, for skin-tight blue stockinette is 
nothing in the eyes of Modesty : every elevation, 
every- depression, every crease in her shameless 
anatomy exposed to a hundred pairs of eyes, she 
walked calmly towards the water. A young man to 
match followed. Then they wallowed in the sea. 

Jones forgot Hoover. He recalled Lady Dolly in 
" Moths." Lady Dolly, who, on the beach of Sand- 
bourne-on-Sea would have been the pink of propriety, 
and the inhabitants of this beach were not wicked 
society people, but respectable middle-class folk. 

" That's pretty thick," said Jones to an old gentle- 
man like a goat sitting close to him, whose eyes were 
fixed in contemplation on the bathers. 

" What ? " 



208 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" That girl in blue. Don't any of them wear 
decent clothes ? " 

" The scraggy ones do," replied the other, speaking 
in a far-away and contented manner. 

At about half-past eleven Jones left the beach, 
tired of the glare and the bathers, and the sand- 
digging children. He called at the book-shop, and 
for a shilling obtained a bicycle map of the coast, and 
sitting on a seat outside the shop, scanned it. 

There were three roads out of Sandbourne-on-Sea : 
the London road ; a road across the cliffs to the 
west, and a road across the cliffs to the east. The 
easterly road led to Northbourne, a seaside town 
some six or seven miles away ; the westerly road to 
Southbourne, some fifteen miles off. London lay 
sixty miles to the north. The railway touched the 
London road at Houghton Admiral, a station some 
nine miles up the line. 

That was the position. Should he take the London 
road and board a train at Houghton Admiral, or take 
the road to Northbourne and get a train from there ? 

The three ways lay before him like the three Fates, 
and he determined on the London road. 

However, Man proposes and God disposes. 

He folded up the map, put it in his pocket and 
started for home or, at least, Mrs. Henshaw's. 

Just at the commencement of the street he paused 
before a photographer's to inspect the pictures exposed 
for view. Groups, family parties, children, and girls 
with undecided features. He turned from the con- 
templation of these things, and found himself face 
to face with Hoover. 

Hoover must have turned into the street from a 
by-way, for only sixty seconds before the street 
had been Hooverless. He was dressed in a Norfolk 



A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS 209 

jacket and knickerbockers, and his calves showed 
huge. 

" Hello ! " said Jones. 

The exclamation was ejected from him, so to speak, 
by the mental shock. 

Hoover's hand shot out to grasp his prey. What 
happened then was described by Mr. Shonts, the 
German draper across the way, to a friend. 

" Der thin man hit Mr. Hoover in the stomack, who 
sat down, but lifted himself at wance and pursued 
him." 

Jones ran. After him followed a constable, sprung 
from nowhere, boys, a dog that seemed running for 
exercise, and Hoover. 

He reached the house of Mrs. Henshaw, pulled the 
latch-key from his pocket, plunged it in the lock, 
opened the door and shut it. So close was the pursuit 
on him that the ' bang-bang ' of the knocker followed 
at once on the bang of the door. 

Then the bell went, peal after peal. 

Jones made for the kitchen stairs and bolted down 
them, found a passage leading to the back door, and, 
disregarding the bewildered Mrs. Henshaw, who was 
coming out of the kitchen with her hands all over 
flour, found the backyard. 

A blank wall lay before him, another on the right, 
and another on the left. The left and right walls 
divided the Henshaw backyard from the yards of the 
houses on either side ; the wall immediately before 
him divided it from the backyard of a house in 
Minerva Terrace, which was parallel to the High 
Street. 

Jones chose this wall. A tenantless dog-kennel 
standing before it helped him, and next moment he 
was over, shaken up with a drop of twelve feet and 

14 



210 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

facing a clothes-line full of linen. He dived under a 
sheet and almost into the back of a broad woman 
hanging linen on a second clothes-line, found the back 
door of the house, which the broad woman had left 
open, ran down a passage, up a kitchen stairs and into 
a hall. An old gentleman in list slippers, coming out 
of a room on the right, asked him what he wanted. 
Jones, recalling the affair later, could hear the old 
gentleman's voice and words. 

He did not pause to reply. He opened the hall 
door, and the next moment he was in Minerva Terrace. 
It was fortunately deserted. He ran to the left, 
found a by-way and a terrace of artisans' dwellings, 
new, hideous, and composed of yellow brick. In 
front of the terrace lay fields. A gate in the hedge 
invited him ; he climbed over it, crossed a field, found 
another gate which led him to another field, and 
found himself surrounded by the silence of the 
country a silence pierced and thrilled by the songs 
of larks. Larks make the sea lands of the south and 
east coasts insufferable. One lark in a suitable 
setting, and, for a while, is delightful, but twenty 
larks in all grades of ascent and descent, some near, 
some distant, make for melancholy. 

Jones crouched in a hedge for a while to get back 
his breath. He was lost. Road maps were not 
much use to him here. The larks insisted on that, 
jubilantly or sorrowfully, according to the stage of 
their flight. 

Then something or someone immediately behind 
him on the other side of the hedge breathed a huge 
sigh, as if lamenting over his fate. He jumped up. 
It was a cow. He could see her through the brambles 
and smell her, too, sweet as a Devonshire dairy. 

Then he sat down again to think and examine the 



A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS 211 

map, which he had fortunately placed in his pocket. 
The roads were there, but how to reach them was 
the problem, and the London road, to which he had 
pinned his faith, was now impossible. It would be 
surely watched. He determined, after a long con- 
sultation with himself, to make for Northbourne, 
striking across the fields straight ahead, and picking 
up the cliff road somewhere on its course. 

He judged, and rightly enough, that Hoover would 
hunt for him, not along the coast, but inland. North- 
bourne was not the road to London, even though a 
train might be caught from Northbourne. The 
whole business was desperate, but his course seemed 
the least desperate way out of it. And he need not 
hurry ; speed would be of no avail in this race against 
Fate. 

He took the money from his pocket and counted it. 
Out of the nine pounds he started with from Hoover's 
there remained only five pounds eleven and ninepence. 

He had spent as follows : 

s.d. 

Mrs. Henshaw . . ..200 

Panama 6 n 

Nightshirt . . . . . . 3 II 

Coat 15 o 

Public-house . . . . 10 

Shave and newspaper . . 7 

Road map I o 



3 8 3 

He went over these accounts and checked them in 
his head. Then he put the money back in his pocket 
and started on his way across the fields. 

14* 



212 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Despite all his worries, this English country inter- 
ested him ; it also annoyed him. Fields, the size of 
pocket handkerchiefs, divided one from the other by 
monstrous hedges and deep ditches. To cross this 
country in a straight line one would want to be a 
deer or a bounding kangaroo. Gates, always at 
corners and always diagonal to his path, gave him 
access from one field to the other. There were few 
trees. The English tree has an antipathy to the sea, 
and keeps away from it, but the hedge has no sensi- 
tiveness of this sort. These hedges seemed to love 
the sea, to judge by their size. 

He was just in the act of clambering over one of 
the innumerable gates when a voice hailed him. He 
looked back. A young man in leggings, who had 
evidently been following him unperceived, raised a 
hand. Jones finished his business with the gate, and 
then, with it between him and the stranger, waited. 
He was well-dressed in a rough way, evidently a 
superior sort of farmer, and physically a person to 
be reckoned with. He was also an exceedingly can- 
tankerous-looking individual. 

" Do you know that you are trespassing ? " asked 
he, when they were within speaking distance. 

" No," said Jones. 

" Well, you are. I must ask you for your name 
and address, please." 

" What on earth for what harm am I doing your 
old fields ? " Jones had forgotten his position, every- 
thing, before the outrage on common sense. 

" You are trespassing, that's all. I must ask you 
for your name and address." 

Now to Jones came the recollection of something 
he had read somewhere. A statement that in England 
there was no law of trespass in the country places, 



A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS 213 

and that a person might go anywhere to pick mush- 
rooms or wild flowers, and no landlord could interfere 
so long as no damage was done. 

" Don't you know the law ? " asked Jones. He 
recited the law accordingly to the Unknown. 

The other listened politely. 

" I ask you for your name and address," said he. 
" Our lawyers will settle the other matter." 

Then anger came to Jones. 

" I am the Earl of Rochester," said he, " and my 
address is Carlton House Terrace, London. I have 
no cards on me." 

Then the queerest sensation came to Jones, for he 
saw that the other had recognized him. Rochester 
was evidently as well known to the ordinary English- 
man, by picture and repute, as Lloyd George. 

" I beg your pardon," said the other, " but the fact 
is, my land is overrun with people from Sandbourne 
sorry." 

" Oh, don't mention it," replied the Earl of 
Rochester. " I shan't do any damage. Good day." 
They parted, and he pursued his way. 

A mile farther on he came upon a person with 
broken boots, a beery face, and clothes to match his 
boots. This person was seated in the sunshine under 
a hedge, a bundle and a tin can beside him. 

He hailed Jones as " Guvernor," and requested a 
match. 

Jones supplied the match, and they fell into 
conversation. 

" Northbourne," said the tramp. " I'm goin' that 
way meself. I'll show you the quickest way when 
I've had a suck at me pipe." 

Jones rested for a moment by the hedge whilst 
the pipe was lit. The trespass business was still hot 



214 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

in his mind. The cave-in of the landlord had not 
entirely removed the sense of outrage. 

" Aren't you afraid of being had up for trespass ? " 
asked he. 

" Trespass/' replied the other, " not me. I ain't 
af eared of no farmers." 

Jones gave his experience. 

" Don't you be under no bloomin' error/' said the 
tramp, when the recital was finished. " That chap 
was right enough. That chap couldn't touch the 
likes of me, unless he lied and swore I'd broke fences ; 
but he could touch the likes of you. I know the 
lor. I know it in and out. Landlords don't know it 
as well as me. That chap knows the lor, else he 
wouldn't 'a' been so keen on gettin' your name and 
where you lived." 

" But how could he have touched me if he cannot 
touch you ? " 

The tramp chuckled. 

" I'll tell you," said he, " and I'll tell you what he'll 
do now he's got where you live. He'll go to the 
Co't o' Charncery and arsk for a 'junction against 
you to stop you goin' over his fields. You don't 
want to go over his fields any more, that don't matter. 
He'll get his 'junction, and you'll have to pay the 
bloomin' costs see the bloomin' costs, and what 
will that amahnt to ? Gawd knows, maybe a hundred 
pound. Lots of folks take it into their silly heads 
they can go where they want. They carnt, not if 
the landlord knows his lor, not unless they're hoofin' 
it like me. Lot o' use bringin' me up to the Co't o' 
Charncery." 

" Do you mean to say that just for walking over a 
field a man can be had up to the Court of Chancery 
and fined a hundred pounds ? " 



A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS 215 

" He ain't fined, it's took off him in costs." 

" You seem to know a lot about the law," said 
Jones, calling up the man of the public-house last 
night, and coming to the conclusion that amongst the 
English lower orders there must be a vast fund of a 
peculiar sort of intelligence. 

" Yus," said the tramp. " I told you I did." Then, 
interestedly, " What might your name be ? " 

Jones repeated the magic formula to see the effect. 

" I am the Earl of Rochester." 

" Lord Rawchester. Thought I knew your face. 
Lost half a quid over your horse runnin' at Gatwood 
Park last spring tweT months. ' White Lady ' came 
in second to ' The Nun.' Half a quid. I'd made a bit 
on ' Champane Bottle ' in the sellin' plate. Run me 
eye over the lists and picked out ' White Lady.' 
Didn't know nothin' abaht her ; said to a fren' : ' Here's 
my fancy. Don't know nothin' abaht her, but she's 
one of Lord Rawchester's, an' his horses run stright.' 
That's what I said, ' His horses run stright,' and 
give me a stright run hoss with a wooden leg before 
any of your fliers with a dope in his belly or a pullin' 
jockey on his back. But the grown' did her : she was 
beat on the post by haff an 'eck, you'll remember. 
She'd 'a' won be two lengths, on'y for that bit o' soggy 
grown' be the post. That grown' wants overhaulin' ; 
haff a shower o' rain, and a hoss wants fins and flippers 
instead o' hoofs." 

" Yes," said Jones, " that's so." 

" A few barra' loads o' gravel would put it rite," 
continued the other. " It ain't fair on the hosses, and 
it ain't fair on the backers. 'Arf a quid I dropped on 
that mucky bit o' grown'. Last Doncaster meetin' 
I was sayin' the very same thing to Lor' Lonsdale 
over the Doncaster course. I met him, man to man 



216 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

like, outside the ring, and he handed me out a cigar. 
We talked same as you and me might be talkin' now, 
and I says to him : ' What we want's more money 
put into drains on the courses. Look at them mucky 
farmers, the way they drains their land,' says I, ' and 
look at us runnin' hosses and layin' our bets and let 
down, hosses and backers and all, for want of the 
courses bein' looked after proper.' ' 

He tapped the dottle out of his pipe, picked up the 
bundle, and rose grumbling. 

Then he led the way in the direction of Northbourne. 

It was a little after three o'clock now, and the day 
was sultry. Jones, despite his other troubles, was 
vastly interested in his companion. The height of 
Rochester's position had never appeared truly till 
shown him by the farmer and this tramp. They knew 
him. To them, without any doubt, the philosophers 
and poets of the world were unknown, but they knew 
the Earl of Rochester, and not unfavourably. 

Millions upon millions of the English world were 
equally acquainted with his lordship ; he was most 
evidently a National figure. His unconventionally, 
his " larks," his lavishness, and his horse-racing 
propensities, however they might pain his family, 
would be meat to the legions who loved a lord, who 
loved a bet, who loved a horse, and a picturesque 
spendthrift. 

To be Rochester was not only to be a lord, it was 
more than that. It was to be famous, a national 
character, whose picture was printed on the retina 
of the million. Never had Jones felt more inclined 
to stick to his position than now, with the hounds on 
his traces, a tramp for his companion, and darkness 
ahead. He felt that if he could once get to London, 
once lay his hands on that eight thousand pounds 



A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS 217 

lying in the National Provincial Bank, he could 
fight. Fight for freedom, get lawyers to help him, 
and retain his phantom coronet. 

He had ceased to fear madness ; all that dread of 
losing himself had vanished, at least, for the moment. 
Hoover had cured him. 

Meanwhile they talked as they went, the tramp 
laying down the law as to rights over commons and 
waste lands, seeming absolutely to forget that he was 
talking to, or supposed to be talking to, a landed 
proprietor. At last they reached the white ribbon 
that runs over the cliffs from Sandbourne to North- 
bourne and beyond. 

" Here's the road," said the tramp, " and I'll be 
takin' leave of your lor 'ship. I'll take it easy for 
a bit amongst them bushes ; there's no call for me 
to hurry. I shawnt forget meetin' your lor'ship. 
Blimy if I will. Me sittin' there under that hedge 
an' thinkin^ of that half quid I dropped over ' White 
Lady/ and your lor'ship comin' along it gets me ! " 

Up to this moment of parting he had not once 
Lordshipped Jones. 

Jones, feeling in his pocket, produced the half- 
sovereign, which, with five pounds one and nine- 
pence, made up his worldly wealth at the moment. 

He handed it over, and the tramp spat on it for 
luck. 

Then they parted, and the fugitive resumed his way 
with a lighter pocket but a somewhat lighter heart. 

There are people who increase and people who reduce 
one's energy ; it is sometimes enough to look at them 
without even talking to them. The tramp belonged 
to the former class. He had cheered Jones. There 
was nothing particularly cheery in his conversation ; 
all the same, the effect had been produced. 



218 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Now, along the cliff road and coming from the 
direction of Northbourne a black speck developed, 
resolving itself at last into the form of an old man carry- 
ing a basket. The basket was filled with apples and 
Banbury cakes. Jones bought eight Banbury cakes 
and two apples with his one and ninepence, and then 
took his seat on the warm turf by the way to devour 
them. He lay on his side as he ate and cursed 
Hoover. 

To lie here for an hour on this idyllic day, to watch 
the white gulls flying, to listen to the whisper of the 
sea far below, what could be better than that ? He 
determined if ever he should win freedom and money 
to return here for a holiday. 

He was thinking this, when, raised now on his elbow, 
he saw something moving amongst the bushes and long 
grass of the waste lands bordering the cliff road. 

It was a man, a man on all fours, yet moving swiftly, 
a sight natural enough in the deer-stalking Highlands, 
but uncanny on these Wessex downs. 

Jones, leaving four Banbury cakes uneaten on the 
grass, sprang to his feet, so did the crawling one. 

Then the race began. 

The pursuer was handicapped. 

Any two sides of a triangle are longer than the third. 
A right line towards Jones would save many yards, 
but the going would be bad on account of the brambles 
and bushes ; a straight line to the road would lengthen 
the distance to be covered, but would give a much 
better course when the road was reached. He chose 
the latter. 

The result was, that when the race really, started the 
pursuer was nearly half a mile to the bad. But he had 
not recently consumed four Banbury cakes and two 
apples. Super-Banbury cakes of the dear old days, 



A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS 219 

when margarine was ninepence a pound, flour un- 
limited, and currants unsought after by the wealthy. 

Jones had not run for years. And in this connec- 
tion it is quite surprising how Society pursues a man 
once he gets over the barrier and especially when he 
has to run for his liberty. 

The first mile was bad, then he got his second wind 
handed to him, despite everything, by a fair constitu- 
tion and a fairly respectable life, but the pursuer was 
now only a quarter of a mile behind. Up to this the 
course had been clear, with no spectators, but now came 
along from the direction of Northbourne an invalid 
on the arm of an attendant, and behind them a boy on 
a bicycle. The bicycle was an inspiration. 

It was also yellow-painted, and bore a carrier in 
front blazoned with the name of a Northbourne 
Italian warehouseman. It contained parcels, evidently 
intended for one of the few bungalows that strewed 
the cliff. 

The boy fought to defend his master's property, 
briefly, but still he fought, till a happy stroke in the 
wind laid him on the sun- warmed turf. The screams 
of the invalid it was a female sounded in the ears 
of Jones like part of some fantastic dream, so seemed 
the bicycle. It had no bell, the saddle wanted raising 
at least two inches ; still, it went, and the wind was 
behind. 

On the right was a sheer drop of two hundred feet, 
and the road here skirted the cliff edge murderously 
close, for the simple reason that cliff falls had eaten the 
bordering grass to within a few feet of the road. This 
course, on an unknown and questionable bicycle laden 
with parcels of tea and sugar, was open to a good many 
objections ; they did not occur to Jones, he was making 
good speed, or thought he was till the long declivity 



220 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

leading to Northbourne was reached. Here he began 
to know what speed really was, for he found on pressing 
the lever that the brake would not act. Fortunately 
it was a free wheel. 

This declivity runs between detached villas and stone 
walls, sheltering prim gardens, right on to the west 
end of the esplanade, which is, in fact, a continuation 
of it. For the first few hundred yards Jones thought 
that nothing could go quicker than the houses and walls 
rushing past him ; towards the end he was not thinking. 

The esplanade opened out, a happy band of children 
with buckets and wooden spades, returning home to 
tea, opened out, gave place to rushing apartment 
houses with green balconies on the left, rushing sea- 
scape and bathing-machines on the right. Then the 
speed slackened. 

He got off, shaking, and looked behind him. He 
had reached the east end of the promenade. It lay, 
as it always lies towards five o'clock, absolutely deserted 
by visitors. In the distance and just stepped out of a 
newspaper kiosk a woman was standing, shading her 
eyes and looking towards him. Two boatmen near 
her were looking in the same direction. They did not 
seem excited, just mildly interested. 

At that moment appeared on the long slope leading 
down to the esplanade the figure of a man running. 
He looked like a policeman a seaside policeman. 

Jones did not pause to verify. He propped the 
bicycle against the rails of a verandahed house and 
ran. 

The esplanade at this, the eastern end, ascends 
to the town by a zig-zag road. As he took this ascent 
the mind of Jones, far from being clouded or dulled, 
was acutely active. It saw that now the railway sta- 
tion of Northbourne was out of count ; flight by train 



A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS 221 

was impossible, for the station was the very first place 
that would be watched ; the coast line, to judge by 
present results, was impossible, for it seemed that to 
keep to it he might go on for ever being chased till he 
reached John o' Groats. 

Northbourne is the twin image of Sandbourne-on- 
Sea, the same long High Street, the same shops with 
blinds selling the same wares, the same trippers, 
children with spades, and invalids. 

The two towns are rivals, each claiming the biggest 
brass band, the longest esplanade, the fewer deaths 
from drowning, the best drains, the most sunlight, and 
the swiftest trains from London. Needless to say 
that one of them is not speaking the truth, a fact that 
does not seem to disturb either of them in the least. 

Jones, walking swiftly, passed a seaside boot-shop, 
a butcher's, greengrocer's, and Italian warehouse 
the same, to judge by the name over the door that 
had sent forth the messenger-boy on the bicycle. Then 
came a cinema palace, with huge pictures splashed 
across with yellow bands, announcing : 

" TO-NIGHT." 

Then a milliner's, then a post-office, and lastly a livery 
stables. 

In front of the latter stood a char-a-banc nearly full. 
A black board announced in white chalk : " Two hours' 
drive, two shillings," and the congregation in the 
char-a-banc had that stamp. Stout women, children, 
a weedy man or two, and a honeymoon couple. 

Jones, without the slightest hesitation, climbed into 
the char-a-banc. It seemed sent by Heaven. It was 
a seat, it went somewhere, and it was a hiding-place. 
Seated amongst these people he felt intuitively that a 



222 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

viewless barrier lay between him and his pursuers ; 
that it was the very last place a man in search of a 
runaway would glance at. 

He was right. Whilst the char-^-banc still lingered 
on the chance of a last customer, the running police- 
man he was walking now appeared at the sea end 
of the street. He was a young man with a face like 
an apple, he wore a straw helmet Northbourne 
serves out straw helmets for its police and straw hats 
for its horses on the first of June each year and he 
seemed blown. He was looking about him from right 
to left, but he never looked once at the char-a-banc 
and its contents. He went on, and round the corner 
of the street he vanished, still looking about him. 

A few moments later the vehicle started. The 
contents were cheerful and communicative one with the 
other, conversing freely on all sorts of matters, and 
Jones, listening despite himself, gathered all sorts of 
information on subjects ranging from the pictures 
then exhibiting at the cinema palace, to the price of 
butter. 

He discovered that the contents consisted of three 
family parties exclusive of the honeymoon couple 
and that the appearance of universal fraternity was 
deceptive, that the parties were exclusive, the conver- 
sation of each being confined to its own members. 

So occupied was his mind by these facts that they 
were a mile and a half away from Northbourne and 
in the depths of the country before a great doubt 
seized him. 

He called across the heads of the others to the driver, 
asking where they were going to. 

" Sandbourne-on-Sea," said the driver. 

Now, though the Sandbournites hate the Northbourn- 
ites as the Guelphs the Ghibellines, though the two 



A TRAMP, AND OTHER THINGS 223 

towns are at advertisemental war, the favourite plea- 
sure drive of the chars-a-bancs of Sandbourne is to 
Northbourne, and vice versa. It is chosen simply 
because the road is the best thereabouts, and the 
gradients the easiest for the horses. 

" Sandbourne-on-Sea ? " cried Jones. 

' Yes/' said the driver. 

The vision of himself being carted back to Sand- 
bourne-on-Sea with that crowd and then back again 
to Northbourne if he were not caught appeared to 
Jones for the moment as the last possible grimace of 
Fate. He struggled to get out, calling to the driver 
that he did not want to go to Sandbourne. The 
vehicle stopped, and the driver demanded the full fare 
two shillings. Jones produced one of his sovereigns, 
but the man could not make change, neither could any 
of the passengers. 

" I'll call at the livery stables as I go back," said 
Jones, " and pay them there." 

" Where are you stayin' in the town ? " asked the 
driver. 

" Belinda Villa," said Jones. 

It was the name of the villa against whose rails he 
had left the bicycle. The idiocy of the title had 
struck him vaguely at the moment, and the impression 
had remained. 

" Mrs. Cass ? " 

' Yes." 

" Mrs. Cass's empty." 

This unfortunate condition of Mrs. Cass did not floor 
Jones. 

" She was yesterday," said he, " but I have taken 
the front parlour and a bedroom this afternoon." 

' That's true," said a fat woman ; "I saw the 
gentleman go in with his luggage." 



224 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

In any congregation of people you will always find 
a liar ready to lie for fun, or the excitement of having 
a part in the business on hand ; failing that, a person 
equipped with an imagination that sees what it 
pleases. 

This amazing statement of the fat woman almost 
took Jones's breath away. But there are other people 
in a crowd beside liars. 

" Why can't the gentleman leave the sovereign with 
the driver and get the change in the morning ? " asked 
one of the weedy-looking men. This scarecrow had 
not said a word to anyone during the drive. He 
seemed born of mischance to live for that supreme 
moment, diminish an honest man's ways of escape, and 
wither. 

Jones withered him. 

' You shut up," said he. " It's no affair of yours 
cheek ! " Then to the driver : ' You know my 
address ; if you don't trust me you can come back 
with me and get change." 

Then he turned and walked off, whilst the vehicle 
drove on. 

He waited till a bend of the road hid it from view, 
and then he took to the fields on the left. 

He had still the remains of the packet of cigarettes 
he had brought at Sandbourne, and, having crossed 
four or five gates, he took his seat under a hedge and 
lit a cigarette. 

He was hungry. He had done a lot of work on four 
Banbury cakes and an apple. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE ONLY MAN IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD BELIEVE 

HIM 

THE tobacco took the edge from his desire for 
food, increased his blood pressure, and gave 
rest to his mind. 

He sat thinking. The story of " Moths " rose up 
before his mind, and he fell to wondering how it ended 
and what became of the beautiful heroine with whom 
he had linked Teresa, Countess of Rochester, of 
Zouroff, with whom he had linked Maniloff, of Corre"ze, 
with whom he had linked himself. 

The colour of that story had tinctured all his seaside 
experiences. Then Mrs. Henshaw rose up before his 
mind. What was she thinking of the lodger who had 
flashed through her life and vanished over the back 
garden wall ? And the interview between her and 
Hoover that would have been well worth seeing. 
Then the boy on the bicycle and the screaming invalid 
rose before him, and that mad rush down the slope 
of the esplanade ; if those children with spades and 
buckets had not parted as they did, if a dog had got 
in his way, if the slope had ended in a curve I He 
amused himself with picturing these possibilities and 
their results ; and then all at once a drowsiness more 

225 15 



226 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

delightful than any dream closed on him and he fell 
asleep. 

It was after dark when he awoke, with the remnant 
of a moon lighting the field before him. From far 
away and borne on the wind from the sea came a 
faint sound as of a delirious donkey with brass lungs 
braying at the moon. It was the sound of a band. 
The Northbourne brass band playing in the Cliff 
Gardens above the moonlit sea. Jones felt to see 
that his cigarettes and matches were safe in his pocket, 
then he started, taking a line across country, trusting 
in Providence as a guide. 

Sometimes he paused and rested on a gate, listening 
to the faint and indeterminate sounds of the night, 
through which came occasionally the barking of a 
distant dog, like the beating of a trip hammer. 

It was a perfect summer's night, one of those rare 
nights that England alone can produce ; there were 
glow-worms in the hedges and a scent of new-mown 
hay in the air. Though the music of the band had 
been blotted out by distance, listening intently, he 
caught the faintest suspicion of a whisper, continuous, 
and evidently the sound of the sea. 

An hour later, that is to say towards eleven o'clock, 
weary with finding his way out of fields into fields, 
into grassy lanes and around farm-house buildings, 
desperate, and faint from hunger, Jones found a 
road, and by the road a bungalow with a light in one 
of the windows. 

A dauntingly respectable-looking bungalow in the 
midst of a well laid-out garden. 

Jones opened the gate and came up the path. He 
was going to demand food, offer to pay for it if 
necessary, and produce gold as an evidence of good 
faith. 



THE ONLY MAN WHO BELIEVED 227 

He came into the verandah, found the front door, 
which was closed, struck a match, found the bell, 
pulled and pulled it. There was no response. He 
waited a little and then rang again, with a like result. 
Then he came to the lighted window. 

It was a French window, only half closed, and a 
half turned-down lamp showed a comfortably 
furnished room and a table laid out for supper. 

Two places were set. A cold fowl intact on a 
dish garnished with parsley stood side by side with 
a York ham the worse for wear, a salad, a roll of 
cowslip-coloured butter, a loaf of home-made bread 
and a cheese tucked around with a snow-white napkin 
made up the rest of the eatables, whilst a decanter of 
claret shone invitingly by the seat of the carver. 
There was nothing wanting, or only the invitation. 

The fowl supplied that. 

Jones pushed the window open and entered. Half 
closing it again, he took his seat at the table, placing 
his hat on the floor beside him. Taking a sovereign 
from his pocket, he placed it on the white cloth. Then 
he fell to. 

You 'can generally tell a man by his claret, and 
judging from this claret, the unknown who had 
supplied the feast must have been a most estimable 
man. 

A man of understanding and parts, a man not to be 
deluded by specious wine lists, a generous, warm- 
hearted and full-blooded soul and here he was. 

A step sounded on the verandah, the window was 
pushed open, and a man of forty years or so, well- 
dressed, tall, thin, dark and saturnine, stood before 
the feaster. 

He showed no surprise. Removing his hat, he 
bowed. 

15* 



228 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Jones half rose. 

" Hello," said he confusedly, with his mouth full 
then he subsided into his chair. 

" I must apologize for being late," said the tall 
man, placing his hat on a chair, rubbing his long 
hands together and moving to the vacant seat. " I 
was unavoidably detained. But I'm glad you did not 
wait supper." 

He took his seat, spread his napkin on his knees, 
and poured himself out a glass of claret. His eyes 
were fixed on the sovereign lying upon the cloth. He 
had noted it from the first. Jones picked it up and 
put it in his pocket. 

" That's right," said the unknown. Then, as if in 
reply to a question : "I will have a wing, please." 

Jones cut a wing of the fowl, placed it in the extra 
plate which he had placed on one side of the table, 
and presented it. The other cut himself some bread, 
helped himself to salad, salt and pepper, and started 
eating, absolutely as though nothing unusual had 
occurred or was occurring. 

For half a minute or so neither spoke. Then Jones 
said : 

" Look here," said he, "I want to make some 
explanations." 

" Explanations," said the long man ; " what 
about ? " 

Jones laughed. 

" That sovereign which I put on the table, and 
which I have put back in my pocket. I must 
apologize. Had I gone away before you returned, 
that would have been left behind to show that your 
room had been entered neither by a hobo nor a 
burglar, nor by some cad who had committed an 
impertinence perhaps you will believe that." 



THE ONLY MAN WHO BELIEVED 229 

The long man bowed. 

" But," went on Jones, " by a man who was driven 
by circumstance to seek hospitality without 
invitation." 

The other had suddenly remembered the ham, and 
had risen and was helping himself, his pince-nez, 
which he wore on a ribbon and evidently only for 
reading purposes, dangling against his waistcoat 
buttons. 

" By circumstance," said he ; " that is interesting. 
Circumstance is the master dramatist are you 
interested in the Drama ? " 

" Interested ! " said Jones. " Why, I am a. drama. 
I reckon I'm the biggest drama ever written, and 
that's why I am here to-night." 

" Ah," said the other, " this is becoming more 
interesting still, or promising to become, for I warn 
you, plainly, that what may appear of intense interest 
to the individual is generally of little interest to the 
public. Now, a man may, let's say, commit some 
little act that the thing we call Justice disapproves 
of, and eluding Justice, find himself pressed by 
Circumstance into queer and dramatic positions; 
those positions, though of momentary and intense 
interest to the man in question, would be of the 
vaguest interest to the man in the stalls or the girl 
eating buns in the gallery, unless they were con- 
nected by that thread of what shall we call it 
that is the backbone of the thing we call Story." 

" Oh, Justice isn't bothering after me," said Jones. 
Then vague recollections began to stir in his mind: 
that long, glabrous face, the set of that jaw, that 
forehead, that hair, brushed back. 

" Why, you're Mr. Kellerman, aren't you ? " said he. 
The other bowed. 



230 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Good heavens ! " said Jones, " I ought to have 
known you. I've seen your picture often enough in 
the States, and your cinema plays haven't read 
your books, for I'm not a reading man but I've 
been fair crazy over your cinema plays." 

Kellerman bowed. 

" Help yourself to some cheese," said he ; "it's good. 
I get it from Fortnum and Mason's. When I stepped 
into this room and saw you here, for the first moment 
I was going to kick you out, then I thought I'd have 
some fun with you and freeze you out. So you're 
American ? You are welcome. But just tell me 
this. Why did you come in, and how ? " 

" I came in because I am being chased," said 
Jones ; "it's not the law, I reckon I'm an honest 
citizen in purpose, anyhow, and as to how I came 
in, I wanted a crust of bread and rang at your hall 
door." 

" Servants don't sleep here," said Kellerman. 
" Cook snores bungalow like a fiddle for conveying 
sounds come here for sleep and rest. They sleep at 
a cottage down the road." 

" So ? " said Jones. " Well, getting no reply, I 
looked in at the window, saw the supper, and came in." 

" That's just the sort of thing that might occur in 
a photo play," said Kellerman. " When I saw you, 
as I stepped in, sitting quietly at supper, the situation 
struck me at once." 

" You call that a situation," said Jones ; " it's 
bald to some of the situations I have been in for the 
last God knows how long." 

" You interest me," said Kellerman, helping 
himself to cheese. " You talk with such entire con- 
viction of the value of your goods." 

" How do you mean, the value of my goods ? " 



THE ONLY MAN WHO BELIEVED 281 

' Your situations, if you like the term better. Don't 
you know that good situations are rarer than diamonds, 
and more valuable ? Have you ever read Pickwick ? " 

' Yep." 

" Then you can guess what I mean. Situations 
don't occur in real life ; they have to be dug for 
in the diamond fields of the mind, and " 

" Situations don't occur in real life ! " said Jones. 
'* Don't they. Now, see here, I've had supper with 
you, and in return for your hospitality I'll tell you 
everything that's happened to me if you'll hear it. 
I guess I'll shatter your illusions. I'll give you a 
sample : I belong to the London Senior Conservative 
Club, and yet I don't. I have the swellest house in 
London, yet it doesn't belong to me. I'm worth 
one million and eight thousand pounds, yet the other 
day I had to steal a few sovereigns, but the law could 
not touch me for stealing them. I have an uncle 
who is a duke, yet I am no relation to him. Sounds 
crazy, doesn't it ; all the same it's fact. I don't 
mind telling you the whole thing if you care to hear 
it. I won't give you the right names because there's 
a woman in the case, but I bet I'll lift your hair." 

Kellerman did not seem elated. 

" I don't mind listening to your story," said he, 
" on one condition." 

" What's that ? " 

" That you will not be offended if I switch you off 
if the thing palls, and hand you your hat, for I must 
tell you that though I came down here to get sleep, 
I do most of my sleeping between two in the morning 
and noon. I work at night, and I had intended 
working to-night." 

" Oh, you can switch me off when you like," said 
Jones. 



232 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

Supper being finished, Kellerman fastened the 
window, and, carrying the lamp, led the way to a 
comfortably furnished study. Here he produced 
cigars, and put a little kettle on a spirit stove to make 
tea. 

Then, sitting opposite to his host, in a comfortable 
arm-chair, Jones began his story. 

He had told his infernal story so often that one 
might have fancied it a painful effort, even to begin. 
It was not. He had now an audience in touch with 
him. He suppressed names, or rather altered them, 
substituting Manchester for Rochester, and Bird- 
wood for Birdbrook. The audience did not care, it 
recked nothing of titles, it wanted Story and it 
got it. 

At about one o'clock the recital was interrupted 
whilst tea was made, at two o'clock or a little after 
the tale finished. 

" Well ? " said Jones. 

Kellerman was leaning back in his chair with eyes 
half closed ; he seemed calculating something in his 
head. 

" Do you^believe me ? " 

Kellerman opened his eyes. 

" Of course I believe you. If you had invented 
all that, you would be clever enough to know what 
your invention is worth, and not hand it out to a 
stranger. But I doubt whether anyone else will 
believe you however, that is your affair you have 
given me five reels of the finest stuff, or, at least, the 
material for it, and if I ever care to use it I will fix 
you up a contract giving you twenty-five per cent, 
royalties. But there's one thing you haven't given 
me the denouement. I'm more than interested in 
that. I'm not thinking of money ; I'm a film actor at 



THE ONLY MAN WHO BELIEVED 233 

heart, and I want to help in the play. Say, may I 
help ? " 

" How ? " 

" Come along with you to the end, give all the 
assistance in my power or even without that, just 
watch the show. I want to see the last act, for I'm 
blessed if I can imagine it." 

" I'd rather not," said Jones. ' You might get 
to know the real names of the people I'm dealing 
with, and as there is a woman in the business, I don't 
feel I ought to give her name away even to you. 
No. I reckon I'll pull through alone, but if you'd 
give me a sofa to sleep on to-night I'd be grateful. 
Then I can get away in the morning." 

Kellerman did not press the point. 

" I'll give you better than a sofa," he said. 
" There's a spare bed, and you'd better not start in 
the morning ; give them time to cool down. Then 
towards evening you can make a dash ; the servants 
here are all right, they'll think you are a friend run 
down from town to see me. I'll arrange all that." 



CHAPTER XV c 

PEBBLEMARSH 

AT five o'clock next day, Jones, re-dressed by 
Kellerman in a morning coat rather the worse 
for wear a coat that had been left behind at the 
bungalow by one of Kellerman's friends and a dark 
cloth cap, took his departure from the bungalow. His 
appearance was frankly abominable, but quite distinct 
from the appearance of a man dressed in a grey flannel 
tennis coat and wearing a panama and that was the 
main point. 

Kellerman had also worked up a history and 
personality for the newly-attired one. 

" You are Mr. Isaacson," said he. " Here's the 
card of a Mr. Isaacson who called some time ago ; 
put it in your pocket. I will write you a couple of 
fake letters to back the card : you are in the watch 
trade. Pebblemarsh is the nearest town, only five 
miles down the road ; there's a station there, but you'd 
better avoid that. There's a garage. You could get 
a car to London. If they nail you, scream like an 
excited Jew, produce your credentials, and if the worst 
comes to the worst refer to me and come back here. 
I would love that interview. Country policemen, 
lunatic asylum man, Mr. Isaacson, highly excited, and 
myself." " 

2341 



PEBBLEMARSH 285 

He sat down to write the fake letters addressed to Mr. 
Isaacson by his uncle, Julius Goldberg, and his partner, 
Marcus Cohen. As he wrote he talked over his shoulder 
on the subject of disguises, alleging that the only 
really impenetrable disguise was that of a nigger 
minstrel. 

' You see, all black faces are pretty much the same," 
said he. " Their predominant expression is black, 
but I haven't got the fixings nor the coloured pants and 
things, to say nothing of a banjo, so I reckon you'll 
just have to be Mr. Isaacson, and you may thank the 
God of the Hebrews I haven't made you an old clothes 
man watches are respectable. Here are your letters, 
they are short but credible. Have you enough 
money ? " 

" Lots," said Jones, " and I don't know in the 
least how to thank you for what you have done. I'd 
have been had, sure, wearing that hat and coat well, 
maybe we'll meet again." 

They parted at the gate, the hunted one taking 
the white, dusty road in the direction of Pebble- 
marsh, Kellerman watching till a bend hid him from 
view. 

Kellerman had in some mysterious way added a 
touch of the footlights to this business. This con- 
founded Kellerman, who thought in terms of reels and 
situations, had managed to inspire Jones with the 
feeling that he was moving on the screen, and that any 
moment the hedgerows might give up an army of 
pursuers, to the delight of a hidden audience. 

However, the hedgerows of the Pebblemarsh road 
gave up nothing but the odours of briar and woodbine ; 
nothing pursued him but the twitter of birds and the 
songs of larks above the summer-drowsy fields. 

There is nothing much better to live in the memory 



236 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

than a real old English country road on a perfect 
summer afternoon, no pleasanter companion. 

Pebblemarsh is a town of some four thousand souls. 
It possesses a dye factory. It once possessed the only 
really good trout stream in this part of the country, 
with the inevitable result, for in England when a really 
good trout stream is discovered a dye factory is always 
erected upon its banks. Pebblemarsh now only 
possesses a dye factory. 

The main street runs north and south, and as Jones 
passed up it he might have fancied himself in Sand- 
bourne or Northbourne, so much alike are these three 
towns. 

Half-way up, and opposite the post office, an archway 
disclosed itself, with above it the magic word : 

" GARAGE." 

He entered the place. There were no signs of cars, 
nothing of a movable description in that yard, with the 
exception of a stout man in leggings and shirt-sleeves, 
who, seeing the stranger, came forward to receive 
him. 

" Have you a car ? " asked Jones. 

" They're all out except a Ford/' said the stout 
man. " Did you want to go for a drive ? "' 

" No ; I want to run up to London in a hurry. 
What's the mileage from here ? " 

" We reckon it sixty-three miles from here to 
London. That is to say, the Old Kent Road." 

" That's near enough," said Jones. " What's the 
price ? " 

" A shilling a mile to take you, and a sixpence a 
mile for the car coming back." 

* What's the total ? " 



PEBBLEMARSH 237 

The proprietor figured in his head for a moment. 
" Four, fourteen, six," said he. 

" I'll take the car," said Jones, " and I'll pay you 
now. Can I have it at once ? " 

The proprietor went to a door and opened it. 

" Jim," cried he, " are you there ? Gentleman 
wants the Ford taken to London. Get her out and get 
yourself ready." 

He turned to Jones. 

" She'll be ready in ten minutes, if that will do." 

" That will do," said Jones, " and here's the money." 

He waited whilst the Ford was taken from its den ; 
then Jim, an inconspicuous looking man, wriggled 
into his overcoat, the engine was started, and Jones 
taking his seat, they were off. 

They turned up the street and along the London 
Road. They passed a respectable cemetery, the dye 
works, a tin chapel ; and the car taking a hill as Fords 
know how, dropped Pebblemarsh to invisibility and 
surrounded itself with vast stretches of green and sun- 
warmed country. Towards dusk they passed through 
a large town, then another, and then came the lights 
of London and an endless road, half road, half street. 

Jim turned in his seat. " This here is the Old Kent 
Road," said he ; " which part did you want ? " 

" This will do," said Jones. " Pull her up." 

He got out, took the four and sixpence from his 
pocket and gave Jim two shillings for a tip. Then 
with only two and sixpence in the world, within touch, 
he watched the car drive away before turning London- 
wards. 

The Old Kent Road was once, no doubt, a pleasant 
enough place, but pleasure has long forsaken it, and 
cleanliness. 

It was here that David Copperfield sold his jacket, 



238 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

and the old clothiers' shops are so antiquated that any 
of them might have been the scene of the purchase. 
To-night the Old Kent Road was swarming, and the 
further Jones advanced towards the river the thicker 
seemed the throng. 

At a flaring public-house, and for the price of a 
shilling, he obtained enough food in the way of sausages 
and mashed potatoes to satisfy his hunger. A half- 
pint tankard of beer completed the satisfaction of 
the inner man, and, having bought a packet of navy 
cut cigarettes and a box of matches, he left the place 
and pursued his way towards the river. 

He had exactly tenpence in his pocket, and he fell 
to thinking as he walked of the extraordinary monetary 
fluctuations he had experienced in this city of London. 
At the " Savoy " that fatal day he had less than 
ten pounds ; next morning, though robed as a lord, 
he had only a penny. The penny had been reduced 
to a halfpenny by the purchase of a newspaper, the 
halfpenny swollen to five pounds by Rochester's gift. 
The five pounds sprang in five minutes to eight thou- 
sand, owing to Voles ; the eight thousand to a million 
eight thousand, owing to Mulhausen ; Simms and 
Cavendish had stripped him of his last cent ; the 
Smithers affair had given him nine pounds ; now he 
had only tenpence ; and to-morrow, at nine o'clock, 
he would have eight thousand 1 

It will be noted that he did not consider that eight 
thousand his till it was safe in his pocket in the form of 
notes ; he had learned by bitter experience to put his 
trust in nothing but the tangible. He reached the 
river, and the great bridge that spans it here,fandjon 
the bridge he paused, leaning his elbow on the parapet 
and looking down stream. 

The waning moon had risen, painting the water with 



PEBBLEMARSH 239 

silver. Barge lights and the lights of tugs and police- 
boats showed points of orange and dribbles of ruffled 
gold, whilst away down stream, to the right, the airy, 
fairy tracery of the Houses of Parliament fretted the 
sky. 

It was a nocturne after the heart of Whistler, and 
Jones, as he gazed at it, felt for the first time the 
magic of this wonderful, half -revealed city, with its 
million yellow eyes. He passed on, crossing to the 
right bank, and found the Strand. Here, in a bar, 
and for the price of half a pint of beer, he sat for some 
twenty minutes, watching the customers and killing 
time ; then, with his worldly wealth reduced to eight- 
pence, he wandered off westward, passing the " Savoy," 
and pausing for a moment to peep down the great 
archway at the gaily lit hotel. 

At midnight he had gravitated to the Embankment, 
and found a seat not overcrowded. 

Here he fell in with a gentleman, derelict like him- 
self a free-spoken individual, whose conversation 
whiled away an hour. 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE BLIGHTED CITY 

SAID the person, after a request for a match : 
" Warm night, but there's a change in the 
weather coming on, or I'm greatly mistaken. I've 
lost nearly everything in the chops and changes of life, 
but there's one thing I haven't lost my barometer 
that's to say, my rheumatism. It tells me when rain 
is coming as sure as an aneroid. London is pretty full 
for the time of year, don't you think ? " 

" Yes," said Jones ; " I reckon it is." 

They talked, the gentleman with the barometer 
passing from the weather to politics, from politics to 
high finance, from high finance to himself. He had 
been a solicitor. 

" Disbarred, as you see, for nothing but what a 
hundred men are doing at the present moment. 
There's no justice in the world, except, maybe, in the 
Law Courts. I'm not one of those who think the Law 
is an ass ; no, there's a great deal of common sense 
in the law of England. I'm not talking of the Incor- 
porated Law Society, that shut me out from a living 
for a slip any man might make, I'm talking of the old 
laws of England as administered by his Majesty's 
judges ; study them, and you will be astonished at 
their straight common sense and justice. I'm not 

240 



THE BLIGHTED CITY 241 

holding a brief for lawyers I'm frank, you see ; the 
business of lawyers is to wriggle round and circumvent 
the truth, to muddy evidence, confuse witnesses, and 
undo justice I'm just talking of the laws." 

" Do you know anything of the laws of lunacy ? " 
asked Jones. 

" Something." 

" I had a friend who was supposed to be suffering 
from mind trouble ; two doctors doped him and put 
him away in an asylum he was quite harmless." 

" What do you mean by doped him ? " asked the 
other. 

" Gave him a drug to quiet him, and then took 
him off in an automobile." 

" Was there money involved ? " 

' You may say there was. He was worth a 
million." 

" Anyone to benefit by his being put away ? " 

" Well, I expect one might make out a case of that 
the family would have the handling of the million, 
wouldn't they ? " 

" It all depends ; but there's one thing certain, 
there 'd be a thundering law case for any clever solicitor 
to handle if the plaintiff were not too far gone in his 
mind to plead. Anyhow, the drugging is out of order 
whole thing sounds fishy." 

" Suppose he escaped," said Jones. " Could they 
take him back by force ? " 

" That's a difficult question to answer. If he were 
cutting up shines it would be easy, but if he were 
clever enough to pretend to be sane it might be 
difficult. You see, he would have to be arrested ; no 
man can go up and seize another man in the street 
and say, ' You're mad ; come along with me,' simply 
because, even if he holds a certificate of lunacy against 

16 



242 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

the other man, the other man might say, ' You've 
made a mistake ; I'm not the person you want.' Then 
it would be a question of swearing before a magistrate. 
The good old laws of England are very strict about the 
freedom of the body and the rights of the individual 
man to be heard in his own defence. If your lunatic 
were not too insane, and were to take refuge in a friend's 
house, and the friend were to back him, that would 
make things more difficult still." 

" If he were to take refuge in his own house ? " 

" Oh, that would make the thing still more difficult, 
very much more so. If, of course, he were not con- 
ducting himself in a manner detrimental to the public 
peace, firing guns out of windows, and so forth. The 
laws of England are very strict about entering a man's 
house. Of course, were the pursuers to go before a 
magistrate and swear that the pursued were a dangerous 
lunatic, then a right of search and entry might be 
obtained, but on the pursuers would lie the onus of 
proof. Now, pauper lunatics are very easily dealt 
with ; the relieving officer, on the strength of a certifi- 
cate of lunacy, can go to the poor man's cottage or 
tenement and take him away, for, you see, the man 
possessing no property, it is supposed that no man is 
interested in his internment, but once introduce the 
property element and there is the very devil to pay, 
especially in cases where the lunatic is only eccentric, 
and does not come into court with straws in his hair, 
so to speak." 

" I get you," said Jones. 

He offered cigarettes, and presently the communi- 
cative one departed, having borrowed fourpence on 
the strength of his professional advice. 

The rest of that night was a very good imitation oi 
a nightmare. Jones tried several different seats in 



THE BLIGHTED CITY 248 

succession, and managed to do a good deal of walking. 
Dawn found him on London Bridge, watching the birth 
of another perfect day, but without enthusiasm. 

He was cheerful, but tired. The thought that, at 
nine o'clock or thereabouts, he would be able to place 
his hand on eight thousand pounds, gave him the 
material for his cheerfulness. He had often read of 
the joy of open-air life, and the freedom of the hobo, 
but open-air life in London, on looking back upon it, 
did not appeal to him. He had been twice moved on 
by policemen, and his next-door neighbours, after the 
departure of the barometer man, were of a type 
that inspired neither liking nor trust. 

He heard Big Ben booming six o'clock. He had 
three hours still before him, and he determined to take 
it out in walking. He would go citywards, and then 
come back with an appetite for breakfast. 

Having made this resolve, he started, passing through 
the deserted streets till he reached the Bank, and then 
onwards till he reached the Mile End Road. 

As he walked on he made plans. When he had 
drawn his money he would breakfast at a restaurant ; 
he fixed upon Romano's eggs and bacon and sausages, 
coffee and hot rolls would be the menu. Then he fell 
to wondering whether Romano's would be open for 
breakfasts, or whether it was of the type that only 
serves luncheons and dinners. If it were, then he 
could breakfast at the Charing Cross Hotel. 

These considerations led him a good distance on his 
way. Then the Mile End Road beguiled him, lying 
straight and foreign looking and empty in the sunlight. 
The barometer man's weather apparatus must have 
been at fault, for in all the sky there was not a cloud, 
nor the symptom of the coming of a cloud. 

Away down near the docks, a clock over a public- 

16* 



244 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

house pointed to half -past seven, and he judged it 
time to return. 

He came back. The Mile End Road was still 
deserted, the City round the Bank was destitute of 
life, Fleet Street empty. 

Pompeii lay not more utterly dead than this weird 
city of vast business palaces, and the Strand showed 
nothing of life, or almost nothing, every shop was 
shuttered, though now it was close upon nine o'clock. 

Something had happened to London, some blight 
had fallen on the inhabitants, death seemed every- 
where, not seen but hinted at. Stray recollections of 
weird stories by H. G. Wells passed through the mind 
of Jones. He recalled the City of London when the 
Martians had done with it, that city of death and 
horror and sunlight and silence. 

Then, of a sudden, as he neared the Law Courts, 
the appalling truth suddenly suggested itself to him. 

He walked up to a policeman on point duty at a 
corner, a policeman who seemed under the mesmerism 
of the general gloom and blight, a policeman who 
might have been the blue concrete core of negation. 

" Say, officer," said Jones, " what day's to-day ? " 

" Sunday," said the policeman. 



CHAPTER XVII 

A JUST MAN ANGERED 

WHEN things are piled one on top of another 
beyond a certain height they generally come 
down with a crash. 

That one word " Sunday " was the last straw for 
Jones, sweeping away breakfast, bank, and every- 
thing coming on top of the events of the last twenty- 
four hours it brought his mental complacency to ruins, 
ruins from which shot blazing jets of wrath. 

Red rage filled him. He had been made game of, 
every man and everything was against him. Well, 
he would bite. He would strike. He would attack, 
careless of everything, heedless of everything. 

A mesmerised-looking taxicab, crawling along on 
the opposite side of the way, fortunately caught his eye. 

" I'll make hay ! " cried Jones, as he rushed across 
the street. 

He stopped the cab. 

" IOA, Carlton House Terrace/ 1 he cried to the 
driver. 

He got in and shut the door with a bang. 

He got out at Carlton House Terrace, ran up the 
steps of IOA, and rang the bell. 

The door was opened by the man who had helped 
to eject Spicer. He did not seem in the least surprised 
to see Jones. 

245 



346 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" Pay that taxi," said Jones. 

" Yes, my lord," replied the flunkey. 

Jones, all through his adventures since leaving 
Hoover's, had never bothered about his extra- 
ordinary get up. His present attire did not seem 
to him especially incongruous, nor did it to that 
wonderful servant who took the cap handed to him as 
carefully as though it had been a guinea Lincoln 
Bennett, whilst Jones turned to the breakfast-room. 

The faint smell of coffee met him at the door as he 
opened it. There were no servants in the room. 
Only a woman, quietly breakfasting, with the " Life 
of St. Thomas a Kempis " by her plate. 

It was Venetia Birdbrook. 

She half rose from her chair when she saw Jones. 
He shut the door. The sight of Venetia acted upon 
him almost as badly as the word " Sunday " had done. 

" What are you doing here ? " said he. "I know 
you and that lot had me tucked away in a lunatic 
asylum ; now you have taken possession of the house." 

Venetia was quite calm. 

" Since the house is not yours," said she, " I fail to 
see how my presence here affects you. We know the 
truth. Dr. Simms has arrived at the conclusion 
that your confession was at least based on truth. 
That you are what you proclaimed yourself to be, a 
man named Jones. We thought you were mad ; we 
see now that you are an impostor. Kindly leave this 
house, or I will call for a policeman." 

Jones's mind lost all its fire. Hatred can cool as 
well as inflame, and he hated Venetia and all her 
belongings, including her dowager mother and her 
uncle the duke, with a hatred well based on reason 
and fact. 
" I don't know what you are talking about," said 



A JUST MAN ANGERED 247 

he. " Do you mean that joke I played on you all ? 
I am the Earl of Rochester, this is my house, and I 
request you to leave it. Don't speak ! I know what 
you are going to say. You and your family will do 
this, and you will do that. You will do nothing. 
Even if I were an impostor, you would dare to do 
nothing. Your family washing is far, far too much 
soiled to expose it in public. 

" If I were an impostor, who can say I have not 
played an honourable game ? I have recovered 
valuable property did I touch it and take it away ? 
Did I expose to the public an affair that would have 
caused a scandal ? You will do nothing, and you 
know it. You did not even dare to tell the servants 
here what has happened, for the servant who let me 
in was not a bit surprised. Now, if you have finished 
your breakfast, will you kindly leave my house." 

Venetia rose and took up her book. 

" Your house 1 " said she. 

' Yes, my house. From this day forth, my house. 
But that is not all. To-morrow I will get lawyers to 
work, and I'll get apologies as big as houses from the 
whole lot of you, else I'll prosecute." He was getting 
angry. " Prosecute you for doping me." Recollec- 
tions of the barometer man's advice came to him. 
" Doping me in order to lay your hands on that million 
of money." 

He went to the bell and rang it. 

" We want no scene before the servants," said 
Venetia hurriedly. 

" Then kindly go," said Jones, " or you will have 
a perfect panorama before the servants." 

She left the room. 

A servant entered. 

" Send Church here," said Jones. 



248 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

He was trembling like a furious dog. 

He had got the whole situation in hand. He had 
told his tale and acted like an honourable man ; the 
fools had disbelieved him and doped him. They had 
scented the truth, but they dared do nothing. Mul- 
hausen and the recovered mine, the Plinlimon letters, 
Rochester's past, all these were his bastions, to say 
nothing of Rochester's suicide. 

The fear of publicity held them in a vice. Even 
were they to go to America, and prove that a man 
called Jones, exactly like the Earl of Rochester, had 
lived in Philadelphia, go to the " Savoy " and prove 
that a man exactly like the Earl of Rochester had 
lived there, produce the clothes he had come home in 
that night all of that would lead them where to an 
action at law. 

They could not arrest him as an impostor till they 
had proved him an impostor. To prove that, they 
would have to turn the family history inside out 
before a gaping public. 

Mr. Church came in. 

" Church," said Jones, " I played a practical joke 
on on my people. I met a certain man called Jones 
at the ' Savoy.' Well, we needn't go into details ; 
he was very like me, and I told my people for a joke 
that I was Jones. The fools thought I was mad. 
They called in two doctors, and drugged me and 
hauled me off to a place. I got out, and here I am 
back. What do you think of that ? " 

" Well, my lord," said Church, " if I may say it to 
you, those practical jokes are dangerous things to play. 
Lord Llangwathby " 

" Was he here ? " 

" He came last night, my lord, to have a personal 
explanation about a telegram he said you sent him as 



A JUST MAN ANGERED 249 

a practical joke some time ago, taking him up to 
Cumberland." 

" I'll never play another," said Jones. ' Tell 
them to bring me some breakfast. And look here, 
Church, I've told my sister to leave the house at 
once. I want no more of her here. See that her 
luggage is taken down at once." 

" Yes, my lord." 

" And see here, Church, let no one in. Lord Llang- 
wathby or anyone else. I want a little peace. By 
the way, have a taxi sent for, and tell me when my 
sister's luggage is down." 

In the middle of breakfast Church came in to say 
that Lady Venetia was departing, and Jones came 
into the hall to verify the fact. 

Venetia had brought a crocodile-skin travelling-bag 
and a trunk. 

These were being conveyed to a taxi. 

Not one word did she say to relieve her outraged 
feelings. The fear of a " scene before the servants " 
kept her quiet. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

HE FINDS HIMSELF 

r I ^HAT evening at nine o'clock Jones sat in the 

1 smoking-room, writing. He had trusted 
Church with an important mission, on the upshot of 
which his future depended. 

If you will review his story, as he himself was 
reviewing it now, you will see that, despite a strong 
will and a mind quick to act, the freedom of his will 
had always been hampered by circumstance. 

Circumstance from the first had determined that he 
should^be a lord. 

I^leave it to philosophers to determine what cir- 
cumstance is. I can only say that, from a fair know- 
ledge of life, circumstance seems to me more than a 
fortuitous happening of things. Who does not know 
the man of integrity and ability, the man destined 
for the presidency or the college chair, who remains 
in an office all his life. Luck is somehow against him, 
or the man who starts in life with everything against 
him who arrives, not by creeping, but by leaps and 
bounds. 

I do not wish to cast a shade on individual effort, 
I only say this. If you ever find circumstance, whose 
other name is fortune, feeling for you in order to make 
you a lord, don't kick ; for when fortune takes_an 

350 



HE FINDS HIMSELF 251 

interest in a man she is cunning as a woman. She is 
a woman, in fact. 

At half-past nine a knock came to the door. It 
was opened by Church, who ushered in Teresa, Countess 
of Rochester. 

Jones rose from his chair, Church shut the door, 
and they found themselves face to face. 

The girl did not sit down, she stood holding the 
back of a chair, and looking at the man before her. 
She looked scared, dazed, like a person suddenly 
awakened from sleep in a strange place. 
Jones knew at once. 

' You have guessed the truth," said he, " that I 
am not your husband ? " 

" I knew it," she replied, " when you told us in 
the drawing-room. The others thought you mad. I 
knew you were speaking the truth." 

" That was why you ran from the room ? " 
' Yes. What more have you to say ? " 
" I have a very great deal more to say. Will you 
not sit down ? " 

She sat down on the edge of a chair, folded her 
hands, and continued looking at him with that scared, 
hunted expression. 

" I want to say just this," said Jones. " Right 
through this business, I have tried to play a straight 
game. I can guess from your face that you fear me 
as if I were something horrible. I don't blame you. 
I ask you to listen to me. 

' Your husband took advantage of two facts the 
fact that I am his twin image, as he called it, and the 
fact that I was temporarily without money and 
stranded in London. I am not a drunkard, but that 
night I came under the influence of drink. He took 
advantage of that to send me home as himself. I 



252 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

am going to say a nasty thing. That was not the 
action of a gentleman." 

The girl winced. 

" Never," went on Jones, " would I say things 
against a man who is dead, yet I am forced to tell you 
the truth, so that you may see this man as he was. 
Wait." 

He went to the bureau and took out some papers. 
He handed her one. She read : 

" Stick to it, if you can, I could not. ROCHESTER." 

" That is your husband's handwriting ? " 

" Yes." 

" Now, think for a moment of his act as regards 
yourself. He sent me, a stranger, home, never think- 
ing a thought about you." 

Her breath choked back. 

" As for me," went on Jones, " from the first 
moment I saw you I have thought of your welfare. 
I told my story for your sake, so that things might be 
cleared up, and they put me in an asylum for my 
pains. I escaped ; and for your sake I am saying all 
this. Does it give me pleasure to show you your 
husband's character ? I would sooner cut off my 
right hand, but that would not help you. You have 
got to know, else I cannot possibly get out of this. 
Read these." 

He handed her the Plinlimon letters. 

She read them carefully. Whilst she was doing so 
he sat down and waited. 

" These were written two years ago," said she in 
a sad voice, as she folded them together, " a year 
after we were married." 

It was the tone of the voice that did it ; as she 



HE FINDS HIMSELF 253 

handed the letters back to him she saw that his eyes 
were filled with tears. 

He put them back in the bureau without a word. 
He felt that he had struck the innocent again and 
most cruelly. 

Then he came back to the chair on which he had 
been sitting, and stood holding its back. 

' You see how we are both placed ? " said he. 
" To prove your husband's death, all my business 
would have to be raked up. I don't mind, because I 
have acted straight ; but you would mind. The fact 
of his suicide, the fact of his sending me home every- 
thing that would hit you again and again. Yet look 
at your position I do not know what we are to do. 
If I go away and go back to the States, I leave you 
before the world as the wife of a man still living who 
has deserted you ; if I stay and go on being the Earl 
of Rochester, you are tied to a phantom." 

He paced the floor, head down, wrestling with an 
insoluble problem, whilst she sat looking at him. 

" Which is the easiest for you ? " asked she. 

" Oh, me ! " said he ; " I'm not thinking of myself 
back to the States, of course ; but that's out of the 
question. There are lots of easy things to do, but 
when my case comes in contact with yours there's 
nothing easy to do. Do you think it was easy for 
me to go off that night and leave you waiting for me, 
feeling that you thought me a skunk ? No, that was 
not easy." 

She had been sitting very calm and still up till now ; 
then suddenly she looked down. She burst into 
tears. 

" Oh," she cried, " why were you not him ? If he 
had only been you ! He cared nothing for me ; yet 
I loved him you you " 



254 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

" I care for nothing at all but you," said he. 

She shuddered and turned her head away. 

" That's the mischief of it, as far as I am concerned," 
he went on. " I can't escape without injuring you, 
and so myself ; yet I don't wonder at your hating me." 

She turned her face to him, it was flushed and wet. 

" I do not hate you," said she ; " you are the only 
man I ever met unselfish ! " 

" No," he said, " I'm selfish. It's just because I 
love you that I think of you more than myself, and I 
love you because you are good and sweet. If you 
were another woman, I would not bother about you. 
I'd be cruel enough, I reckon, and go off and leave 
you tied up, and get back to the States ; but you are 
you, and that's my bother. I did not know till now 
how I was tied to you ; yesterday at that asylum 
place, and all last night, I did not think of you. I 
came here to-day driven by want of money. I was 
so angry with the whole business, I determined to go 
on being Rochester ; then you came into my mind, 
and I sent Church to ask you to come and see me 
much good it has done ! " 

" I don't know," she said. 

He looked at her quickly. Her glance fell. 

Next moment he was beside her, kneeling and 
holding her hand. 

For a moment they said not one word. Then he 
spoke as though answering questions. 

" We can get married oh, I don't mind going on 
being the Earl of Rochester. There were times when 
I thought I'd go cracked, but now you know the 
truth I reckon I can go on pretending. People can 
have the marriage ceremony performed twice of 
course, it would have to be private I don't believe 
you can ever care for me I don't know, maybe you 



HE FINDS HIMSELF 255 

will. Do you care for me for myself in the least ? 
I reckon I'm half mad ; but, say, when did you begin 
to like me for myself was it only just because you 
thought I was unselfish was it ? " 

" If I like you at all," she said, with a little catch 
in her voice. " Perhaps it was that night " 

" What night ? " 

" The night you struck " 

" The Russian ; but you thought I was him then." 

" Perhaps," said she dreamily ; " but I thought it 
was unlike him do you understand ? " 

" I don't know. I understand nothing but that I 
have got you to care for always to worship." 



" Good-night," said she at last. 

She was standing, preparing to go. 

" The family know the truth at least, they are 
sure of the truth ; but, as you say, they can do 
nothing. Imagine their feelings when I tell them 
what we have agreed on ! With me on your side, 
they are absolutely helpless." 



There is, fortunately enough, no law preventing 
two married people being re-married privately, the 
good old lawyers of England considering, no doubt, 
that a man having gone through the ceremony once 
would think it enough. 

They were married a week later. 



256 THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF 

All this happened some years ago years marked 
by some very practical and brilliant speeches in the 
House of Lords. It is a queer story, but not queerer 
than the face of the Dowager Countess of Rochester 
when she reads in private all the nice complimentary 
things that the papers have to say about her son. 



THE END 



Printed at Th(. Chapel River Press, Kingston, Surrey. 



THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE 
STAMPED BELOW 



AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS 

WILL BE ASSESSED FOR FAILURE TO RETURN 
THIS BOOK ON THE DATE DUE. THE PENALTY 
WILL INCREASE TO SO CENTS ON THE FOURTH 
DAY AND TO $1.OO ON THE SEVENTH DAY 
OVERDUE. 



MAR 22 '4n 



AU 29 m 




YB 6957^ 



THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY